Wednesday, July 21, 2010

21st Century Arts Skills Map released at Capitol Hill hearing

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills released the Skills Map for the Arts at a Capitol Hill briefing on July 15. The map, outlining thirteen skills, outcomes, and lesson examples at grades four, eight, and twelve in the four arts areas (theatre, music, dance, and visual arts), was created by the leading arts education professional organizations. The Educational Theatre Association collaborated with the American Alliance for Theatre & Education to create the map’s twelve theatre examples. Executive Director Michael Peitz and EdTA Director of Educational Policy James Palmarini attended the briefing. EdTA member and map writer Dale Schmid spoke on behalf of theatre’s role in the process and 2010 EdTA Arts Advocacy Day Essay Competition winner Elliah Heifetz was one of four students to speak on how arts education had impacted their lives.

The complete map is available at

Other participating organizations were the National Art Education Association, MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the National Dance Association, and the National Dance Education Organization.

EdTA Executive Director Michael Peitz, 2010 Arts Advocacy Day Essay winner Elliah Heifetz, and Upper Dublin High School theatre director Deborah Thompson at the 21st Century Partnership Arts Map briefing in Washington, D.C.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national organization that advocates for twenty-first century readiness for every student. P21 and its member organizations stress the need for U. S. education to include “four Cs” (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity) as part of teacher practice in order for the United States to continue to compete in a global economy.

Kathy Hurley, senior vice president of strategic partnerships for the education services and technology company Pearson and P21 executive board and strategic council chair, said, “I commend America’s leading arts education professional associations for joining forces to create a tool that illustrates how the four Cs can be fused with arts education. This new document, P21’s fifth core content map, provides practical examples that educators can model as they work to ensure 21st century readiness for every student.”

In the briefing, a map writer from each discipline addressed how one of the four Cs was illustrated in a map example. Schmid addressed the skill of creativity and its student outcomes in the following theatre example:

“Students write short original plays, cast them with classmates, workshop the scripts over a designated period, and present them in a staged reading. Through discussions with the audience, cast members, and teachers, they make decisions about what worked well in their plays and what did not, revise the scripts, and submit them to a student playwriting competition.”

In his remarks, Schmid noted a Newsweek article that said a recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one “leadership competency” of the future, and that recent data on a highly regarded test measuring creativity suggests that American creativity skills are declining, particularly among children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Heifetz, a rising senior at Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, was accompanied by his theatre director, Deborah Thompson. Speaking of how his theatre experience has shaped his life, Heifetz said, “All my life, creativity has pushed me forward simply because of the way it makes my mind work. As I change skins from child to teenager and eventually to adult, I advance chiefly because the art that I am involved in now has taught me how.”

Peitz said the The 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts was a major step forward in confirming the arts as a core subject. “In its examples and outcomes, the arts map clearly illustrates how sound teaching practice in theatre, dance, visual arts, and music can nurture and promote the fundamental skills our students need to succeed in today’s world.

“We all know that the 4Cs of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking, along with all the other skills cited in the framework, happen every day in our classrooms and on our stages,” said Peitz. “I hope business leaders, school administrators, legislators, and educators themselves will use the arts skills map to help support their efforts to promote curricular arts programs in our schools.” (Posted 7/19/2010)

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