Arts Education and Diversity: A picture is worth a thousand lessons

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Pablo Picasso once said that "painting is just another way of keeping a diary." Much of life and history indeed have been captured through art, from historic news photographs of war, hardship and celebrations to paintings such as "Guernica" (1937), Picasso's depiction of a town in Spain ravaged during the Spanish Civil War that became one of the greatest antiwar symbols. Read more


List of private arts schools

 
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Burlington, Ontario
Hwy 6/Dundas Street
 
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"Our belief is “Forward Learning. Transforming People”. We focus on the artistic pathway, 21st century learning skills, collaborative discussions, and inquiry-based thinking to prepare students with global competencies." —From the school

  • Gr. 9 to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $9,600 to $23,800
  • Day, Boarding, eSchool
  • 92 students
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Laureate College 9600 HighSchools Day Boarding eSchool Coed
Scarborough, Ontario
Kennedy Road/Progress Avenue
 
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"Enquiring Minds Montessori is a one-of-a-kind Montessori Art School. We have created a unique learning experience that fosters academic and artistic excellence in a nurturing environment while challenging young minds." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 6 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $11,158 to $17,500
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Enquiring Minds Montessori 11158 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Concord, Ontario
 
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"Rotman School: Educating children to empower them for positive contributions to Canadian society. Fostering independence, creativity, and self-esteem through exploration of unique skill sets." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $12,000 to $16,500
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Rotman Arts and Science School 12000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Queen/Silver Birch
 
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"The Cole Academy welcomes students of all genders and orientations and their families. Using stories of under-represented communities, TCA prepares students socially, emotionally, and academically for future schooling." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $25,000
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The Cole Academy 25000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
 
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"Aurora Alternative Micro School has created a curriculum that combines academic and creative experiences , engaging a child's head, heart and hands in an environment that is supportive, nurturing and rich in growth." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $1,100
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Aurora Alternative Micro School 1100 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Whitby, Ontario
Brock Street South/Dundas Streer West
 
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"The Hatch House Montessori School is a very child centered school where each student is respected for their uniqueness and is guided through learning accordingly. Ask about our unique, fully bilingual elementary program." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Montessori curriculum
  • $11,750 to $15,000
  • Day school
  • 0 students
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Hatch House Montessori School 11750 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed

While not everyone may see the value of art beyond its visual beauty, arts education is one of the ways schools can bridge differences and instill meaningful learning experiences for students of all cultures, backgrounds and abilities.

It's not only about music, painting, sketches, cartoons, anime and origami. Arts education essentially nurtures a wide range of skills in students, and an appreciation and understanding of diversity and the richness of our nation.
 

Studies show that the arts offer many opportunities for engaged learning, encouraging the exploration of cultures, ideas, thoughts and expressions different from what we've known before. Through discussion, interpretation and expression of the arts, students develop critical-thinking skills, enhancing imagination, reasoning, and their ability to evaluate situations from multiple perspectives.
 

Read our advice guide on choosing a school for an arts-oriented child and for kids with other traitsTo get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traitscreate a child profile through your user account.

Creating Curriculum Relevant to the 21st Century Workplace

Schools are becoming much more diverse in many aspects of their student population and methods of teaching. Thus, globalization is a key factor in creating curriculum that will be relevant to the 21st-century workplace.

Employers in today's workforce value critical thinking, desiring employees who have the ability to problem solve and see challenges from different viewpoints. Case studies have found that students who have been exposed to fine arts are more likely to develop this key skill.

With the importance of the arts in shaping students for the future, Alberta Education provided some guiding principles in its K–12 Arts Education Curriculum Framework. It recommended that arts education should support creativity, design, student-centred learning that engages the whole person, broad artistic and cultural perspectives that value the unique cultural identities of students, connections to the community that establish relationships through experiences in the arts, and a sense of belonging in a group.

Research indicates that the arts enhance ownership of learning and inspire positive transformation of the school community and culture.

In 2008, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts analyzed its past artist-in-residency programs that invited artists to stay in schools for up to a month; this hands-on initiative and process-based learning contributed to a significant increase in pride and self-esteem along with higher levels of engagement and motivation among the diverse groups of students and schools that participated, according to a 2010 report by the Council of Ministers of Education and the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO.

James Catterall at the University of California found that arts programs integrated with academics impact the school climate by increasing community engagement, cognitive ability, creativity, empathy for others, collaboration skills, leadership and a wide range of higher-order thinking skills. All of these skills are desirable to employers in today's global workforce and encourage the understanding and acceptance of diversity.

The Arts are an Essential Part of Learning

At Concordia High School, Alberta's only international boarding school, language is often the biggest obstacle with so many students who come to study here from around the world, including China, Korea, Hong Kong, Europe, Africa and the Canadian North. But for many students, art class removes those barriers, proving that a picture is worth a thousand words–and lessons.

Living in a dorm, Grade 12 student Shammah Egege experiences the daily language barriers faced by students who are far from home. Egege, who was born in Nigeria and came to Canada over 10 years ago, says that art helped him communicate and connect with other students, even when English was a challenge. "The artifacts displayed in the art room, the different works done by my classmates and the study of art history help me understand different cultures and perceptions."

The arts are another way of keeping a diary– and much more. Whether it is a collaborative arts assignment in an academic subject, crosscurricular activities or a unique masterpiece, the arts serve a greater purpose in education by opening minds to new ways of thinking, learning and understanding that are essential to success in the 21st-century global workforce.

—Tamara C. Larson

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