Artful Learning Approach
Leonard Bernstein was an artist, teacher, and scholar committed to communicating what he
learned through his scholarship and artistic work. He observed that the artistic process of creating and experiencing art is a fundamental way of learning and one transferable to any discipline. Bernstein
epitomized the lifelong learner. As he commented, “The greatest gift my father bestowed on us children was to teach us to love learning.”
The Artful Learning/Leonard Bernstein Center Model is an arts based school improvement model developed from the work and philosophy of Leonard Bernstein.
The model includes both school and classroom level components. At the classroom level, the focus is on the teacher using art as an entrée to all aspects of the curriculum, from reading, writing, to history, math and science. Through the instructional process of “Experience, Inquire, Create, and Reflect,” teachers use masterworks of art as a starting point and organizing model for exploring curricular content. The Artful Learning Model emphasizes the importance of developing a curriculum consistent with district, state, and national standards. At the school level, there is a focus of improving a school’s commitment to develop a teacher’s commitment to constructing learning experiences based on a significant question that connects learning disciplines in an “artful” way.
The Artful Learning Model was developed by the Leonard Bernstein Center through school based research at sites across the country in 1992. The model and the Center moved to the Grammy Foundation in 1999 with the goal of disseminating the model into school throughout the country. The program has been endorsed as a comprehensive school reform model by the New American Schools and has received honor and recognition by the U.S. Department of Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA is providing external evaluation of the Artful Learning Model.
Throughout the 1992-1997 period, the Leonard Bernstein Center conducted intensive field research among its 14 participating schools. The schools were in suburban and urban settings, included K-12 students and diverse student populations. In a controlled evaluation in Dallas, the impact of the Artful Learning Model demonstrated significant positive gains in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. In every achievement category, the Bernstein students outperformed their counterparts. In Nashville, Bernstein students outperformed their counterparts. In Nashville, Bernstein student equaled or out-performed students in comparison schools, achieving higher percentile ranks in 74 to 90 comparisons made. Parallel surveys report an overwhelming belief among teachers that the Artful Learning approach is an effective model for school improvement and student learning. In a national survey of 200 teachers’ beliefs about how the Artful Learning framework had changed their classrooms, 92% responded that their current students were “more motivated” to learn than last year, 78% reported that their current students were “more excited” about learning. They also reported increases on five characteristics of learning. The increases took place:
• Student creativity (88%)
• Progress in inquiry (76%)
• Reflective thinking (81%)
• Self-esteem as learners (84%)
• Love of learning (84%)
Hillside Elementary School has completed three years of rigorous training with the Bernstein School Improvement Model. All teaching faculty have received training on the models arts based teaching strategies, curriculum integration, and assessment methodologies.