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Education

Advocates Want Art Incorporated Into Common Core

Eric Westervelt/NPR
Art projects like these anatomy murals are woven into the curriculum at the Homer Plessy Community Charter school in New Orleans.

Nine-year-old Lillian Sanchez bounced around a Sacramento meeting room in a long pink skirt and a ruffled white top. She and her friends were performing a traditional Mexican dance at a Sacramento conference on arts in education.

"It’s just part of our culture and it’s something that we learned that is something that’s really fun and that a lot of kids like," she said.

While Lillian was there to dance, a group of teachers, artists and administrators were there to learn how the arts can be incorporated into the Common Core education standards California has begun using.

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Joe Landon is with the California Alliance for Arts Education, an advocacy group.

"I see the arts as sort of the pathway into the spirit of the child," Landon said.

He said art can be taught separately, but also incorporated into other subjects

"And it also gives a way of learning how to do something, what discipline is and what collaboration is and what innovation is," he said. "And all these different aspects of what it is to be a human being all grow naturally out of our connection to art."

The conference was sponsored by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. The group is creating guidelines and free online training modules for teachers on how to incorporate art into everyday lessons. Sarah Anderberg, who's leading the initiative, said art can be used to help teach math, English and history.

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"We see all kinds of wonderful possibilities of connecting the arts across the curriculum through discrete arts learning," she said, "but also in these powerful interdisciplinary settings."

Advocates say arts education teaches students critical thinking and discipline while developing their creative skills.