A Successful Program
How important are the arts in our schools
Possible art reasons these children learn so well

". . . 100 percent of Honeyville third-graders scored above the state standard in last fall's Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress."
The above is a quote from The Goshen News (Goshen Indiana)  page 1, January 14, 2000,  in an article entitled, "Honeyville third-graders tops in ISTEP performance" reported by Ann M. Graber, Goshen News Regional Editor .

For comparison, "54 percent of the schools third graders (in the Goshen Community Schools) passed the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress. . . . 46 percent require remediation . . .Goshen third graders did a nice job, scoring above average" This  is a quote from The Goshen News (Goshen Indiana)  page 1, January 25, 2000,  in an article entitled, "Goshen ISTEP results persented".
It should be noted that the Goshen Community Schools serve a much more diverse and somewhat more transient poplulation than the Honeyville school does.

You are reading a page posted by Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana, on January 26, 2000.

Third grade at Honeyville Elementary, Topeka, Indiana, working on a "Portrait Collage" showing emotion and feeling. They are surrealistically pasting "unexpected" pictures on faces cut from magazines.

Fall Semester, 1998, photo, by Marvin Bartel.
Rebekah Short , art teacher.
Kim Lint, Goshen College student teacher.
The teachers are not shown here. Both teachers are graduates of the Goshen College Art Department. Mrs. Short also holds a Master's degree from Ball State University. Mrs. Short is also the art teacher at Westview Elementary where the Honeyville students attend when they reach 5th and 6th grade.

Why do Honeyville students do so well?
-- a short descriptive essay by Marvin Bartel, Ed.D. Professor of Art, Goshen College

There could be many reasons for their success. Undoubtedly, their classroom teachers, their parents, the school  principle, and their culture all contribute to their learning success. Nearly all the Honeyville children are Amish. Most of  them are bilingual, their first language being Pennsylvania Dutch. Many speak virutally no English when they start first grade.

Not all Amish children would do so well on state tests. This school obviously has achieved some effective ways to foster movitation and family interest in education.

Here are some reasons that relate to their art education that might explain some of their learning success.
1. They Learn to Think
In art class the teacher, Mrs. Rebekah Short, requires that they do their own thinking.  When children are stuck or when they ask for help she often helps them solve their problems themselves by asking them questions to focus their thinking and to help them define the problem.  She encourages them to use what she knows they know.  She helps them make their passive knowledge active.
2. They Learn to Observe, to Practice, and to become Confident
In art they learn to be careful observers by regularly drawing from observation by using viewfinders and blind contour teaching methods. Mrs. Short has many resources for them.  There are often objects placed on every worktable for them to draw when they first arrive in class. One day it may be dried milkweed pods, or another day it may be giant living snails from a nearby waterway placed in glass jars for observation and sketching. Beginning in grade one they go ourside and work from the neighbor's flower garden. In contrast to what the art education literature says about third graders, Honeyville third graders seldom suffer from a "crisis of confidence" in drawing. Since grade one, they have learned how to practice. They have gained observation skills. Mrs. Short does not have to "dumb down" the art just so children can feel good about the end product.
3. They Learn to Plan, to Prepare, and to Make Good Choices
In art they develop their own compositions by first preparing a series of preliminary sketches. They learn to judge good, better, and best, from their own ideas. They learn to make choices based on criteria they have developed.
4. They Learn to Concentrate and to Focus
Art class is experiential learning.  They learn by doing, not by simply watching, and not by simply listening.  Listening and/or watching is immediately followed by doing. There is no better way to maintain focus. They pay attention to her because they know they will need ways to approach the problems she assigns them.
5. They Learn New Vocabulary
In art they learn new vocabulary. Art words describe art forms, principles of composition, artistic styles, historical periods, ways to describe art, and so on, are added to that weeks spelling list by the classroom teacher.

6. They Learn to Analyze Cause and Effect
In art they discuss the meanings and feelings their work expresses. In this photo, student teacher, Kim Lint, is conducting a critique with third graders who have completed their montages. Art criticism is not a time to look for failure. The critique is a time to review vocabulary, describe what is seen and the emotions shown, analyze the methods (what causes each visual effect) used to produce feelings, and to interpret (what meanings are found) the works. Because the discussion is about the children's own work, it is often one of the best learning moments in the art lesson.
7. They Learn History and Culture through Art
In art they study historical works related to the work they have been working on in their lessons. These artworks represent historical times, cultures, and beliefs other than their own, but there are often meaningful connections to their own lives and the artworks they have just created.
8. They Develop Independent Habits of Work and Study
In art they learn to study independently. Often their class work relies on drawings from their sketchbooks. Their sketchbooks are filled with drawings done at home based on the teacher's assignments.

The materials in this web site are © Marvin Bartel - 2000. You are invited to make a link from your page. You may use properly acknowledged quotations in scholarly reveiw or publication.  If you wish to publish parts or all of this page, you are invited seek permission by e-mail.
Thanks for your visit.  E-mail: marvinpb@goshen.edu

Click here to see a successful fifth grade art class. This page shows students who previously attended Honeyville when they were grades one to three. The same art teacher teaches in both schools.

Click the links below for more ideas about your child and her/his art.