July 30, 2009
"When teachers take concrete, positive steps to bring the arts into their classrooms, they will see improvement in other academic areas," according to a Knox College professor recently elected to a leadership post in the National Association for Gifted Children. Stephen Schroth, assistant professor of educational studies at Knox, begins a two-year term in September as Chair Elect of the NAGC's Arts Network, and will then serve as Chair of the Arts Network from 2011 to 2013.
"We have a bad history of cutting the arts when school budgets get tight," Schroth says. "The Arts Network advocates that not occur. But I believe that it's up to individual teachers to make the arts a priority. There are many ways that they can tie the arts into the daily practices that occur in the classroom. I and the other educators in the NAGC's Arts Network want to find and publicize practical ways that teachers can incorporate the arts into their typical school days."
The Arts Network focuses on the importance of the arts in K-12 education, Schroth says. "It's vital that all students, and that includes students identified as 'gifted' in any area, participate in both creation and appreciation in the arts."
Schroth and colleague Jason Helfer, associate professor of educational studies at Knox, are conducting a nationwide research project in the field of arts education. "We are compiling responses from a survey that we sent to 1,500 K-12 teachers in every state," Schroth says. "We asked the teachers about their views of arts education, and how they deal with children who exhibit gifts in art, music, theatre or dance."
Schroth says that he and Helfer plan to publish their results in the fall.
A member of the Knox faculty since 2006, Schroth is a graduate of Macalester College. He earned a master's degree at the Teacher's College of Columbia University, a law degree at the University of Minnesota and a doctorate from the University of Illinois. He won a 2003 Inaugural Award from the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries, a 2003 Great Books/Great Teachers Award from the Great Books Foundation, grants in 2007 and 2008 from the Associated Colleges of Illinois for the Project REACH program at Knox, and a 2008 Award for Excellence in Research from the MENSA Education & Research Foundation.
The Arts Network supports interest and education in the visual and performing arts, including public awareness of the arts as an essential facet of academic giftedness. The National Association for Gifted Children works with teachers, parents, administrators and policymakers to develop and support gifted children and high-potential learners.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 47 states and 48 countries. Knox's 'Old Main' is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.