Two hundred classroom teachers from around Mississippi are in Biloxi this week learning how to integrate the arts into lessons on science, math, history and other subjects. MPB's Evelina Burnett reports.
Musician Jerry Jenkins plays a djembe drum in a room full of educators. They’re gathered on the campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College for the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Initiative summer institute.
Jenkins leads a brief demonstration to show how he uses music to teach about community. For example, he says, by playing different instruments.
"They sound good by themselves, but how do they sound great together," he says. "And then you express that again in a way that a child can understand, that it's not just the instruments, we're talking about people with diverse character, characteristics, different ideals, and how to get those people back collectively to work together to make those ideals and goals come about for the betterment of what we call community."
Upstairs, an instructor is demonstrating how to use visual arts to help hone scientific skills such as observation, description and critical inquiry. There are teachers in every room, painting, acting,dancing - learning how to use all the arts to deepen their students understanding.
"I think for a lot of students it really solidifies the learning," says Kristy Luce, director of innovative programs for the Tupelo Public School District. "The great thing about it is for student learning, it not only solidifies it, but it connects it to other things to that they can network their learning as they go through the day."
The Arts commission has organized the Whole Schools Initiative since 1991. 34 schools are participating in the program this year.