PsycholARTSical: Psyched about the arts/Personal Development

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Personal, Social, and Moral Development[edit]

Dear classmates: Thought I'd also knock these headings out for each section of the chapter. As before, the hopes of encouraging content discussion between members of the class continues, and also as before...

Note: Since there are various editions of textbooks circulating throughout the class, page numbers may vary. Refer to subject headings when page number don't match.

--chuckstopher (talk) 16:12, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

What really struck me about this chapter is how well an arts classroom (specifically a drama classroom) can address the issues of personal, social and moral development faced by teenagers.

Adolescence is a time of searching for identity. Through work in a drama class, students are exposed to characters with a wide range of experiences, viewpoints, values and beliefs. Students can safely test out what parts of various characters they connect with, what parts they aspire to incorporate into their own identities, and what parts they do not connect with. It is possible that a student who is confused about her own identity will recognize a part of herself in a character, thus leading her on a healthy path to identity achievement.

A drama classroom is also a great place to develop emotional competence. By considering dramatic situations from the perspective of all characters, students develop both empathy and sympathy. Students also explore the many ways in which people manifest their emotions, such as facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. This leads to various emotional competence skills such as: the ability to read emotions in others, and an awareness that relationships are defined in part by how emotions are expressed.

Being exposed to theatre from various time periods and countries allows students the chance to develop morally. For example, a play set during a time when slavery was acceptable could show students how societal morals have changed over time. A play set in a country where women are still viewed as inferior would show students how morals are different all over the world. Being exposed to a variety of moral norms allows students the chance to discuss, consider and explore their own developing moral reasoning. Theatre also exposes students to fictional moral dilemmas, and shows how various characters would act when confronted with such a dilemma.

Finally, a drama classroom is the perfect place to promote a positive peer culture. For students to be comfortable exploring characters and taking creative risks, there must be an atmosphere of mutual trust and support. For this reason, drama classes often spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year working on trust and community-building activities. Very often a drama classroom is the one place in the school a student feels safe, valued and respected. Having such a space in a school is absolutely essential to students’ well-being and growth.

--Littlelaura (talk) 20:23, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

  • I wholeheartedly agree with Laura’s assessment. Traditional school curriculum addresses a student’s academic needs, and the development of his or her IQ. Competencies such as the ability to listen, to improvise, to master ones emotions, to empathise with others or to work with a team aren’t factored into the grading of most subjects. However, these skills are major components of the study of Drama.
Drama can teach students how to manage their emotions and read other people’s feelings: skills desperately needed by growing teenagers, and required for success in the post graduate world. In the Drama classroom, there is also considerable focus on teamwork, relationship building and social awareness. Through working-in-role, Drama can teach empathy and other key values. Moreover, success in Drama can build a student’s self-esteem. Non-academic students can excel in this environment, which rewards a different set of skills. Students can recognize the benefits of taking risks and standing out from the crowd, which may bolster their future efforts to achieve.
Among all school courses, Drama studies are unique in that they specifically nurture the development of emotional competencies. It is important for Drama educators to recognize this key benefit of this line of study, and be able to share this knowledge with students.
During my practicum, I came to the realization that many students are shunted into Drama studies because they lack direction. Schools require that students take an Arts course in order to graduate. Students lacking interest or skill in visual arts and music get pushed into Drama. Others take Drama because they believe it is a “bird” course, requiring little intellectual effort. I suspect that many academic over-achievers (or students who are more intellectual than social) avoid taking Drama for similar reasons. This stigma extends even into the staff room: I recall hearing an English teacher mocking the instructional value of Drama.
In difference to the aforementioned English teacher, I found Drama a more difficult subject to manage. English has a built-in structure, in regards to both curriculum content and classroom seating arrangement. Focus remains on individual achievement. The more open, kinetic Drama classroom demands more of a teacher’s creativity, ability to improvise, and personality management skills. In the Drama classroom, relationships are key, be they between students or with a teacher. Although any educator may benefit from a high emotional intelligence, one is required for success as a Drama teacher.
I have come to recognize that the rewards for teaching and learning Drama may be greater than for any other subject, for it is through the building of relationships that emotional competencies and fond memories are made. As Drama educators, we must ask ourselves several questions: ‘How can we dispel the erroneous notion that there is little to be gained from taking Drama?’ ‘How can we help other educators understand the unique benefits of Drama studies?’ ‘And how can we best nurture our students’ emotional growth?’ The answer to all these questions is ‘through open dialogue’. This makes perfect sense, considering that dialogue is a lynchpin of Drama.

--Mjcaskenette (talk) 04:03, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Teachers' Casebook: What Would You Do? (pp.61)[edit]

Bullying among peer groups is a wide spread epidemic that has plagued students and both baffled and frustrated educators throughout the years. There seems to be an incredible emotional shift in adolescents with the onset of puberty and the evolution of raging and evolving hormones. These hormones are further exasperated by peer pressures, societal standards, and media influence. What causes a child who was previously friend to another, to suddenly begin to exhibit malicious behaviour? A tough one to access indeed.

As an educator and as a parent of an adolescent female, I have a ZERO tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. As in the casebook scenario involving Stephanie, I am certain that I would have to assure some punitive repercussions transpired for her actions towards her classmate. in my parenting style, I encourage my daughter to have her opinions. I encourage her to share those opinions at home as long as they are constructive and objective. This behavioural modeling is paramount in helping to assure a respectful communication style from her towards others. I acknowledge that my daughter does not nee to like everyone she meets, but she has does have a moral and social obligation to "live and let live", respecting the personal boundaries of others and herself.

When we consider that the following three influences have a major affect on student development: families, peers, and schools - how do we as educators balance effective communication and the incorporation of these vastly shifting variabes in student's lives?

--chuckstopher (talk) 17:10, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

I think that one of the most difficult issues for a teacher to handle is the incredible amount of bullying that occurs in school on a regular basis. I believe that it is the teacher’s responsibility to address this issue whether bullying is occurring inside their own classroom or not. I agree with Chris that there are so many factors that lead to bullying and as a teacher the idea of trying to stop bullying can be overwhelming because there is not one simple cause that can be fixed. That being said, the best thing a teacher can do is create a positive learning environment where bullying is forbidden.

Throughout this course we have discussed how important it is for a teacher to create clear classroom policies and to ensure that the students are aware of these guidelines. This idea should be used in regards to bullying. Teachers must make it clear in the beginning that there is no tolerance for bullying in the classroom and that there will be consequences for such behaviour (consequences will vary among teachers, but the students should be aware of these as well). I think that bullying is a topic that is often ignored by many teachers and to address the issue in the beginning is a positive step toward prevention. I think that in order to continue bullying prevention in the classroom, teachers must incorporate character education into their classroom everyday. There are numerous bullying “prevention” programs that the Ontario Ministry of Education has identified that can be offered in schools (these can be found at However most of these programs are week-long initiatives or assemblies that promote bullying prevention but do not go beyond this. Classrooms that use cooperative learning strategies, character development, and student participation are more effective than any of these ministry proposed programs because they integrate anti-bullying messages into everyday learning.

--JollyJamie (talk) 22:19, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

The Work of Erikson (pp.62-67 )[edit]

The Preschool Years: Trust, Autonomy, and Initiative

Elementary and Middle School Years: Industry versus Inferiority

Adolescence: The Search for Identity

As adolescents work hard to establish their autonomy or independence, they surf a unique balance between child and teen - shifting constantly from one extreme to another depending on the situation and circumstances (i.e. difference between fighting to attend a party, or being "tucked in" at bedtime). One of the biggest lessons I learned as a new parent occurred when I asked my daughter, "What time will you be home" - to which she replied, "What time do you WANT me home?" In that moment, I was profoundly reminded of my role as a parental educator and the paramount importance of boundaries. Children absolutely require boundaries in order to safely develop. They need to have something against which to push and challenge, as they continue to assert and develop their personal identities.

In the development of identity, we educators have a powerful role in modeling for students as they explore personal skills, their belief system, ideologies, values, and work ethic. Through Erikson's "framework for understanding the needs of young people in relation to the society in which they grow, learn, and ultimately make their contributions" (Woolfolk et al. p.62), we better understand the potential for role confusion in youth. Such youth encounter four Identity Statuses:

Identity Achievement: a strong sense of commitment to life choices after open consideration of alternatives

Identity Foreclosure: the acceptance of other life choices without considering options

Identity Diffusion: confusion about self and wants

Identity Crises (Moratorium): suspension of choices due to struggle

As students are figuring out self and "trying on various identities" (Woolfolk et al. p.66), we have the wonderful opportuity to present a solid support structure that provides resources, nurture, patience, and open understanding. As a parent, this is often a very difficult journey but very noble goal nonetheless. - Christopher Wilson

--chuckstopher (talk) 16:30, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Yes yes! I couldn't agree more. I think that there's a danger of labelling kids in a classroom, when we need to realize that the kid that you've labeled the "goth" or the "nerd" or the "gothic nerd" ("Life is a swirling miasma of pain, like that time when when my dwarf-mage lost his +10 mace in the valley of Dk'Lon") is just trying on a persona, and that we need to respect that, and create a respectful space where students can be allowed to explore social boundaries and connections.
As students experience this search for identity, we as educators run into many challenges, as Christopher said above. We need to let students know that we understand their need to try on different personas, and explore social connections, but at the same time make sure they they understand the boundaries and priorities of our classroom (i.e. attendance, assignment completion).
This is a tricky task - while the logistics of class size and scheduling make talking to students one-on-one on a regular basis a difficult task, I think that it's still important to try to make time to check in with your students - even a question as simple as "what are you listening to?" (if it's the gothic nerd, probably Gary Numan) can tell you a little bit about a student, and at least you can start to make inroads. I've found that a friendly attitude, coupled with genuine curiosity about the student (if I call it "genuine," is it still genuine? There's a noodler) goes a long way to making a connection with the student, and even if you don't get the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with the student, you have the beginnings of a personal relationship, so a) the student might be less inclined to test boundaries, and b) if the student pushes boundaries, you won't be treated like a TOTAL narc when you ask the student to talk to you for a bit, so you can see what's causing the change in the student's behaviour. I know this may seem like simple logic, but I think it's something that bears saying.

--Chareth Cutestory (talk) 10:32, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

Let the children play! In Joanne Foster and Dona Matthews' book Being Smart about Gifted Children, they stress the importance of unstructured play, not only for students who have been identified as gifted, but for all students. As youth begin to mature, we have learned that they start to see the world outside of themselves. But how do they relate to that world? Technology has not evolved to the point where social destiny can be predetermined (sorry, I'm reading Brave New World right now) so young people are still stuck with a trial-and-error approach that predominantly manifests itself through assuming of identities.
Of course, some identities come readymade depending on a child's interests: the jock, the drama queen, the computer geek, etc. My question is whether the teenagers who accept those identities from the beginning are achieving or foreclosing. Without a doubt, there are young people who find their identities early on, become comfortable in them, and develop them. However, the wondrous monster that is peer pressure and the need for peer acceptance can drive people of any age to conform to something they do not actually believe in. There are enough social pressures involved with a student's high school experience. How many of them have chosen to move right into identity diffusion of a sort by just docking in the first safe harbour they come across? From my own high school experience, I know students keep all kinds of desires and beliefs secret because they do not "fit" how you either are or wish to be perceived.
I'll finish by seconding the strategy described by Chareth. As an unabashed music nerd, I love to find out what other people are listening to and why they like it. Music is something that many teenagers feel passionately about and I have found it a great way to connect with them. For other teachers it might be movies, television or even (gasp!) books, but connecting through culture is an easy non-intrusive way to start building that connection. The students become so comfortable talking with you about minor issues that the major issues become less scary to broach. And by major issues, I mean something as simple as agreeing to follow you with a new concept you are teaching that isn't immediately clear to them, necessitating hard work on their part to grasp it. As I learned during my English practicum, once you've argued the relative merits of Nine Inch Nails versus Marilyn Manson and which one of them actually brought industrial goth culture to the mainstream, convincing a student that they will be able to get the in-class essay finished correctly and on schedule is easy.

--SwordPhilip (talk) 20:00, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

 .Small Text

Beyond the School Years

Understanding Ourselves and Others (pp.67-76 )[edit]

Self-Concept and Self-Esteem

Considering the ideas of self-concept and self-esteem one has to ask which one is hard for adolescents and for teachers to help adolescents go through. Self-concept or our perceptions of ourselves is different from self-esteem which is the value each of us places on our own characteristic, abilities and behaviour.

I really think that for a teacher the ability to deal and help students to deal with their idea of self-concept is a lot harder to help them deal with self-esteem. I believe this because the idea of self-concept is an internal idea which is developed within oneself and may not be visible to the world around us. Therefore when a student has a poor self-concept it might not be noticeable to the world around them.

On the other hand, the support and resources to help young individuals to develop or help improve their self-esteem are in abundance. Self-esteem in many ways is control from external element and over time it may create issues for ones self-concept. Issues such as bullying, grades and pressures from parents and peers can all affect the ideas behind self-esteem. But as a teacher, these issues can control to a certain extent if they are caught. Even if they are not cause if a teacher notices that a student has a low self-esteem the teacher can intervene and provide emotion and educational support.

The text talks about the example of course selection to explain the impact of choose and self-concept. What it explains is that when a student has to pick course they tend to pick courses which they know they will do well in over courses they will not do so well. For the most part this is true, but for some determined students who may have a goal to get into a certain university which requires certain courses that choice is taken away, and they may have to take a course which they are not very good at. If the student does not do well this may affect they self-esteem and their belief that they can get into a program or university of their chose. This can be extremely stressful and hindering to one self-motivation.

--Naddles (talk) 00:42, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Let's not forget the pressure that some students feel from their parents. During my second practicum, there was a girl in my Grade Nine academic English class who was having a lot of difficulty with the material. When my AT consulted with the guidance office, she was informed that her parents would not allow her to take any college or applied level classes. Of course, the situation was very stressful for the student.
As educators, we might also be indirectly responsible for similar pressures by simply encouraging students to strive for academic courses and a university education. The hidden implication with this encouragement is that a student is "settling" with college level courses and a college education. We need to be sensitive of the reasons students decide to choose their courses, as well as informing them of all of the options that are available to them with course selection. During practicum, I often sensed that students were not entirely clear about differences between applied, college, and university level courses. Nor were they all too sure about the appropriate reasons for selecting one of those levels.

--Maurosavo (talk) 18:47, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Mauro's experience reminded me of a similar experience from my first practicum. A girl in my grade 10 Academic class was struggling to keep up with the material. I am fairly certain that she had a learning disability and really should have been in the Applied or Essential classroom. However her parents refused to allow her to switch to another stream because they were determined that she would go to University, which she could not do without taking Academic classes. This caused the student to become frustrated at her lack of progress, close to failing and still feeling that she must go to University to be successful. She even asked my AT to give her certain marks, so she could get into University.

I remember being the first class to choose between Academic and Applied classes in 1999, when the difference between the streams was completely unclear, even for the teachers. It surprises me that the difference is still not clear, 9 years later. However, I wonder if it is because we cannot present the courses without implying or attaching a negative stigma to Essential and Applied classes. As teachers we need to refrain from explaining college level courses as "slower" or "easier" than University level courses or we automatically give added value to University level, sending the message that we do not value less academic students.

However, what interests me most about this chapter is the notion of academic self-concept, and how that relates to students in Arts classes. Woolfolk et al. state that the academic self-concept is the strongest predictor of course selection for high school students. In other words, the better the student feels about their performance in a subject area, the more likely they are to take your class. In elective classes, it is important to make students feel good about their progress in your class, regardless of their marks. If students feel they can succeed in music they will continue to take music, even if they are only getting a 65%. This is especially important for students who do poorly in other subjects.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to increase students' self-concept in the Arts?

--Liz P (talk) 01:20, 17 April 2008 (UTC)

A successful arts program needs to find ways to empower students. This is impossible if students do not have a positive self-concept of themselves as artists. I’ve heard so many people say, “I’m not musical,” “I’m tone deaf,” “I can’t draw” etc. I think the first step to allowing students to construct positive self-concepts of themselves is to make it clear that it is possible for anyone to do. Like any discipline, if you work hard, you can succeed (but many people seem to think that the arts are just something you’re born with or you’re not. Let them know that the most important thing is that they learn to appreciate and love their art. In my practicum, I did an activity where students listened to a variety of different songs and drew what the songs communicated to them. We then discussed what music actually means and they each wrote a paragraph describing their personal definitions of music and what music means to them. I later posted them anonymously around the room, so they would be reminded throughout the term of why they loved music (their definitions were passionate, profound, and moving). I wanted the students to realize that the arts are something powerful and human, and is about much more than trying to be the best (although trying to be your best is part of it). Beyond that, I think it’s very important to always be positive and encouraging even when you are offering a student constructive criticism. I don’t feel that it is the teachers position to judge who is “talented,” but instead, just to give them the tools and knowledge to achieve as much as they can. You might be surprised in the end by who improves the most. But for any student to take that risk, they have to know that you’re on their side.

--Malexander (talk) 03:38, 20 April 2008 (UTC)

School Life and Self-Esteem

How does self esteem affect a student’s behaviour in school?

Educational Psychology suggests that students with higher self esteem are more likely to be successful in school , have a more favourable attitude towards education, be more popular with classmates and adopt more positive behaviour in the classroom. It may be that high achievement and popularity lead to self-esteem, or vice versa. (71)

Does life in school affect a student’s self-esteem?

A teacher’s encouragement, feedback and evaluations can greatly influence a student’s self-esteem. Being placed in a low-ability group may have a negative impact; learning in collaborative and co-operative settings seems to have a positive effect.

William James suggested that self-esteem is determined by how successful we are at accomplishing tasks or reaching goals we value. If a skill or accomplishment is not important, incompetence in that area does not threaten self esteem. Students must attribute their successes to their own actions, not to luck or special assistance in order to build self esteem.(71)

Accordingly, for teachers to help students build self esteem, they have to emphasize the importance and value of the tasks they initiate, and nurture students and encourage their continued success.

Gender, Ethnicity, and Self-Esteem

Many students underestimate their own competence. Gender and ethnic stereotypes can play a factor.

A number of psychologists have suggested that there is another basis for self-worth: the collective self. Our self esteem can be influenced by a sense of worth of the groups to which we belong. When students are faced with reminders that their ethnic or family group has less status and power, the basis for collective self esteem can erode.(73) Furthermore, a group ’s values, learning styles, and communication patterns may be inconsistent with the expectations of the school and larger society. Embracing mainstream culture may seem to require the subordination of ethnic values. Of course, differences are not deficits, and so schools are encouraged to foster ethnic pride, pride in one’s heritage.

--Mjcaskenette (talk) 19:29, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

The Self and Others

Emotional Competence Skills

Moral Development (pp.76-86 )[edit]

Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development

Lawrence Kohlberg theorised a sequence of levels in moral reasoning based on studies he conducted with children and adults in which he presented them with moral dilemmas. He came up with three levels in moral reasoning (Woolfolk et. al. 77-8):

1. Preconventional – judgement is based solely on personal needs
2. Conventional – judgement is based on others approval, expectations, or values.
3. Postconventional – judgement is based more on personal ethics derived from abstract concepts of justice, human dignity, and equality.

Each of these levels is subdived into two stages, resulting in a total of six stages that represent the moral development of an individual. Kohlberg’s model has been criticised for being too hierarchical and linear. In reality the stages do not appear to be so separate, with individuals often demonstrating the decision making that reflects more than one stage simultaneously. Other criticisms have argued that Kohlberg did not distinguish between morality and social conventions. Furthermore, his theory has been criticised for being Eurocentric, prioritising a Western emphasis on individualism and individual conscience. In contrast, many family-centred cultures would base their highest levels of moral reasoning on the well-being of the family group and not an individual's conscience (Woolfolk et. al. 79).

--Maurosavo (talk) 05:22, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

The Morality of Caring

Moral Behaviour

Socialization: Family, Peers, and Teachers (pp.86-89 )[edit]

North American Families Today

Peer Relationships and Peer Cultures

Socialization – “The ways in which members of a society encourage positive development for the immature individuals of the group” (p.86)

Peer Relationships and Peer Cultures

In the book it describes how relationships and social contexts early in life can affect the way in which one interacts and functions later on in life. It describes how students with close friends at younger stages seem to develop into adults with higher self-esteem and seem to more easily maintain intimate relationships (p.87). Students who may have not had as many friends, or felt rejected throughout school were more likely to drop out/commit crimes (p. 87). Students that are seen as outcast are generally very aggressive, with-drawn or inattentive-hyperactive within the classroom (p.87). However, as the text points out, these labels are also contingent to the classroom atmosphere. The norm in the mathematics classroom may not be the norm in a physical education setting. Thus someone who may be considered with-drawn in a gym class may be considered the norm in a math class. I found this point to be very interesting, as it reflects how the classroom setting affects students perceptions of people and outlines what sort of measures a teacher could take to level the differences between student behaviours.

Differentiated instruction and positive reinforcement in classroom situations with vast difference could be a good way to diminish labels. Allowing for moments of positive reinforcement of different students and their behaviour could lead others in the class to recognize and come to appreciate their classmates’ strengths, rather than focus on the mannerisms as negative/ against the norm. I think it is important as teachers and adults in students’ lives to be able to create an environment conducive to celebrating diversity of strengths rather than a place where differences are highlighted and compared to a standard “norm”.--Thomas20 (talk) 22:31, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

New Roles for Teachers

Challenges for Children (pp.89-96 )[edit]

Navigating Transitions

Children and Youth at Risk

There exist an array of risk factors that range from the individual level out to the sociocultural level: Individual Factors (e.g.,poor social problem solving skills. ) Family Factors (e.g., low family cohesion) Peer Factors (e.g., rejection by peers,) School Factors (e.g., low teacher support)

Factors to consider regarding the idea of an "At Risk" student

-it is important to recognize that risk status is not a unitary category, but instead should be seen as a series of steps along a continuum, ranging from low risk to high risk (McWhirter et al. 1998).

-the defining factor of an at risk student can be internal (mental illness) or external (family) or both

-the risk of a student becomes exponential when the number of factors adding to the risk rise. Rutter (1980) found that those children experiencing only one risk factor were as likely to experience the outcomes of those children with no risk factors. For those children with two or more risk factors, unfavorable outcomes increased four times, and for those children with four risk factors, the chance of negative outcomes increased ten times.

--Hassan (talk) 01:57, 13 April 2008 (UTC)