One of the things that we have learned as parents and teachers in this society is that an old saying is true: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” That simply means if a person has nothing to do it is easier to find something destructive rather than constructive to fill their time. If that is true of adults it is much truer of kids who are more easily led into mischief.
It is for that reason that the school systems, cities and parents and teachers groups have begun to use partnerships in the arts and humanities to keep kids occupied and to help them grow at the same time. This is called “Creative Partnerships.”
Drug use prevention was at the root of this mission as well as learning resiliency and it is doing well, proving to be quite successful. Resiliency is a combination of hope and the ability to act on that hope. How does it work?
A school or city or concerned group of teachers and parents will raise private funds to employ a facility to give the students instruction and a place to use taught skills in various arts and humanities fields. I have written a companion piece about how this affects young grade-schoolers; this article is designed to discuss older students through high school-aged students.
As I discussed in my companion piece some of these programs are (while not the exhaustive list): “Youthexpress! Journals,” “Visual Images,” “Threads of Hope,” “Working it Out,” “Expressing Feelings Through Music,” “Storysharing” and “Community Poems.
For older students sixth grade through high school in Music “Storysharing” have them write a song and tell a story about their life. In “Youthexpress! Journals” have the older students in groups make a newsletter and write about common feelings, problems and successes. “Community Poems” can also be called “Our Voices” and the idea is to write poems or stories about a student’s culture. Think of the dynamics of students learning about one another rather than feeling alienated.
Dance can be used to tell a story. Ask students to create a dance that relays history or emotions they have or feel. Perhaps one of the most important areas is “Working it Out.” The teacher uses speech facilities to help students cope with problems they face.
How does this work and why does it work?
By using funds outside of the school system the opportunities remain. The arts and humanities are conducive to movement (energy reduction) and feelings. It helps a student get emotions out rather than keeping them pent up. And all of the program helps keeps kids busy and doing something constructive.
I judge speech contests each fall. I went to our state competition as a senior in high school and I’ve loved speech ever since. I am amazed these days at what kids tackle. One young man for example gave a speech on what one gallon of clean water would mean to a Third-World country’s village. It was astounding and they in their way are much more effective than a United Nation’s official could ever be.
I have often thought that if we would spend as much energy thinking about positive programs like this as we do arguing over political thorns we might just have a shot at Nirvana and if not that of at least helping our kids and, they do deserve a shot at a good life.
Associated Content Website, Gary Davis, “The Use of Creative Partnerships to Stop Drug Use and Violence and Create Resiliency Under Grade Five”
“Creative Partnerships for Prevention,” Booklet, Department of Education