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District OKs arts curriculum

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District will use state-of-the-art technology to enhance its arts curriculum.

The school board Monday night unanimously adopted an arts curriculum for the next six years.

The K-12 curriculum focuses on two basic disciplines, music and visual arts, but also there is some emphasis on movement, dance and theater arts.

While the younger students gain a basic foundation in music and the visual arts, said Assistant Superintendent Jane Stickney, older students will get involved with more integrative forms of the arts such as video and music production.

But all ages of children will be using up-to-date technology in their exploration of the arts, she said.

'The technologies are creating a strong need to know the principles of design, color, line, form and music,' Stickney said, 'as students attempt to represent learning in powerful digital formats.'

Stickney said efforts to support the arts in schools should pay off in improved academic learning because the two are closely connected.

'The arts provide an important support for academic learning,' she said, 'because in the arts, students learn that there is not just one right answer or one way to solve a problem. They learn to exercise judgment, and they learn to connect ideas with purpose.'

Teams of art teachers assembled the curriculum over months, working outside of the regular school day and during the summer.

'The teams of arts teachers and administrators who are making the recommendations,' Stickney said, 'have reviewed the disciplines within the arts, connected with state and national standards and reviewed best practices for each major area of the arts.'

Besides the technology, supporting materials include textbooks and digital resources that provide access to many museum collections, music libraries and other tools for composition and presentation.

Stickney emphasized the significance of students becoming actively involved in learning through the arts. The key word, she said, is 'interactive.'

'The importance of interactive resources - hands-on experience with musical instruments and varied art media - is essential to our program,' Stickney told the board.

Significant time is planned, Stickney said, to review and re-educate art teachers in the new technologies as well as in team learning techniques and discipline based art education.

It has been seven years (1999) since the school board last reviewed and adopted the arts curriculum, but Stickney said at that time it wasn't changed from the way it had been adopted seven years earlier (1992).

So her use of the word 'exploding' may be appropriate considering the variety of changes in the techniques and innovative resources available today to apply arts to learning.

'Our students' abilities to use technologies,' she said, 'is exploding the learning in all areas of the arts.'