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The Role of the Arts in Education

Ira Shankman is a faculty member and Coordinator of Choral Groups at New York University’s Steinhart School.

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Ira Shankman, Coordinator of Student Teaching Placement for the Music Education Department at New York University, shares his views on the role of the arts in a well-rounded education.

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Ira Shankman: Are Children Receiving Diverse Music (2min)
In the big urban areas, I’d say no. I can’t talk for the rest of the country. I would hope that they wouldn’t be. It’s really a question of exposure and it’s a question of how you’ve grown up, what is your community like, what experiences have you had with people? There was a very interesting article in this month’s Smithsonian magazine about a teacher who did an experiment with her kids. The whole thing was based on diversity. She started this experiment right after Martin Luther King was shot, with a group of elementary school children. The experiment was a little controversial where she took a population of the children and based on the color of their eyes she segregated them and told the rest of the class the because of their eye color, they weren’t as good as anybody else. It was fairly controversial; actually it wasn’t that controversial when it happened but then she went on national TV and suddenly the whole thing blew up. The town that she came from, you knows, they were looked at as racist and everything. It was that type of thing that got to me because in reading the article, they started talking to these kids after they had grown up and one of the now adults said, “Well, you know, I never saw a person of color until I was 20 years old.” That’s what it comes down to in terms of community. What kind of exposure have people had to diversity? The more diverse the populations, I think the more accepting and the more understanding people are of each other.

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Ira Shankman.Arts in Education.doc

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