The College of Arts and Architecture

Community Arts Conversation Scheduled

front cover of the book "arts with the brain in mind"

Music education faculty member Darrin Thornton will serve as a panelist in an open community discussion reflecting on the arts as a valued component of the State College Area School District's curriculum. "Community Conversation: Arts with the Brain in Mind" - occurring on November 18 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the Schlow Library Commuity Room - is the initiative of school district superintendent Robert O'Donnell, who seeks to engage scholars, teachers, and community members in a discussion regarding the role of the arts in schooling. During the conversation, the panelists will be looking at the arts from a brain development perspective, using Eric Jensen's book Arts with the Brain in Mind as a basis. It is hoped that the conversation will support an increased understanding of the value of the arts, provide an overview about what the school district is doing to support student learning within the arts, and spark ways to help the school district to improve its arts-related learning experiences.

The discussion is hosted by Superintendent O'Donnell. In addition to Thornton, the panel includes school district art and music coordinators Danielle Crow and Robert Drafall, as well as Graeme Sullivan, director of Penn State's School of Visual Arts.

Discussion questions posted on the school district website include:

  1. In what ways has education changed over the past 30-50 years that may make arts more valuable today?
  2. What is the value of the arts in a world where technology, efficiency, and speed is highly valued? 
  3. Do arts help develop the brain?
  4. Are there special age groups important for introducing the arts to children?
  5. What are the effects of a fully-implemented arts program?
  6. How do/can we use the arts to help develop students who are poised for happy healthy lives?
  7. What are the neurological benefits of arts experiences for children?  Are the ripple effects of these benefits felt across content areas in our district?
  8. What benefits have arts experiences provided our graduates in their academic and personal lives?
  9. Do parents in our community want the arts to be regarded as a major discipline at all levels, some, or none?

For further information and the opportunity to submit discussion questions in advance, please visit the State College Area School District's webpage.