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The Effects of Specialized School Curricula on Children’s Art Experience and Knowledge Essay

Three approaches in early childhood education in Europe have been significantly increasing the conduct and practices of teaching in North America. “In elementary and early childhood education, three of the best-known approaches with European origins are Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia” (Edwards, 2002, n. p. ). These inspirational approaches provide an alternative method of teaching from the traditional education. Founded by Rudolf Steiner, at the core of Waldorf education is the promotion of peace and justice in society.

It “aims to respect the essential nature of childhood, and in the early years, a secure, unhurried environment which provide a sound foundation for emotional, social and cognitive intelligence later” (Nicol, 2007, p. 1). Maria Montessori founded the Montessori school which offers multi-level approach to education with individualized instructions for students. “Montessori believed that children developed in stages and that each stage had its own unique characteristics and qualities” (Isaacs, 2007, p. 9).

The similarity of Reggio Emilia’s approach with that of John Dewey cannot be denied in its emphasis on the relationship of the individual to the society. The approach can exist with other approaches, and “crossfertilization can happen between programs” (Fraser & Gestwicki, 2002, p. 10). It may be said that all three approaches are similar in acknowledging the child as competent and resilient with rights that have to be upheld. As a substitute teacher, I have worked with kindergarten through fifth grade students in different content areas.

I have discovered that student with advanced classes receive more enriching activities while those in lower functioning classes, the focus was mainly on English language acquisition and math skills. Furthermore, students who are given more responsibility and are included in the learning process seem to succeed more. The teaching methods of Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilia are more student-centered and are more empowering. It was through this observation that I have conceptualized the current research study which aims to examine the effects of these three approaches.

Specifically, it answers the question: Will using teaching methods from specialized school curricula of Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia benefit art experience and knowledge among children in New York City public schools? Chapter III discusses the methodology to achieve this objective while the succeeding chapter will discuss relevant literature related to the study. Chapter II Review of Related Literature Parents and educators alike have been asking, which among the three approaches is the best for the children.

Experts however, agree that each have their own strengths and instead of picking out one, there is more benefit and creating interactions among the three. This paper examines how the specific teaching methods from the three approaches will benefit the students. Preschool education has been found predictive of higher level school achievement. Marcon (2002) found out that children who had an academically orient pre-school experience were less likely to be retained than others. Moreover, up until 6th year in school, there were no significant differences in achievement performance among three different preschool experiences.

However, at 6th grade, “children whose preschool experiences had been academically directed earned significantly lower grades compared to children who attended child-initiated preschool classes” (Marco, 2002, n. p. ). It appears then that an active early learning experience where children were given more responsibility for learning enhanced later learning experiences. Prager (2001) examined how the Waldorf approach was successfully used in an arts curriculum in an urban public school to teach students of color. The approach was found to have enabled students to think critically and analytically, and allowed them to become well-informed.

It “inspires urban students and teachers and prevents dooming them to what Weiner (1999) calls, “the custodial treatment of children” that unfortunately occurs in many city schools” (n. p. ). In a related article, Mollet (1991) describes how the Waldorf approach transformed his class. Using the “right time” method for introducing lessons, Molett was able to make the class engaged in fractions, a topic he chose according to their development stage. The Montessori school has also grown in popularity and is acknowledged as a powerful approach for individualized instruction.

In a study by Shilt (2009) of 11 Montessori schools, teachers employing Waldorf method were able tailor instruction “to individuals’ skill levels and socio-emotional characteristics” (p. 10). In a related study, Sklar’s (2007) study noted that differences in administration of pro-social skills in Waldorf schools can be attributed to the number of years the school has been in operation. Start-up school differ in approach with established schools. In another study, Schonleber (2006) conducted a qualitative research among Hawaiian educators on the effectives of the Waldorf approach.

Data revealed that the approach was congruent to their work lifestyles, values and beliefs, pedagogical practices and overlapping worldviews. The Reggio Emilia approach was evaluated by Warash, Curtis, Hursh and Tucci (2008) as a method facilitating developmentally appropriate practices. The literature concludes that the Reggio Emilia approach can be used in combination with behavior analytic model to address specific learning needs of learners such as those with disabilities and challenging behavior problems.

The study of Katz and Galbraith (2006) provided additional support for the effectiveness of Reggio Emilia approach in inclusive schools. Children with disabilities and those typically developing were found to have appropriate times and venues for interaction during the classes. From the studies, all three approaches have been found remarkably useful in the classroom. This study will adopt different techniques from the three approaches and develop a curriculum that will enhance art experience and education of the students.

The next chapter will discuss in detail how the objectives of the study will be achieved. Chapter III Methodology The sample and procedure in this study are discussed in detail to answer the proposed research questions: Will the implementation of a specialized curriculum, Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia significantly affect children’s art and knowledge among public school students in New York City? To best address the concerns that gave birth to the current study and the goals specified, action research was adopted for the design of the study.

While there are many models for action research, “the basic process consists of four steps: identify an area of focus, collect data, analyze and interpret data, and develop an action plan” (Mills, 2003, p. 20). In this study, I will be examining the impact of the different teaching approaches to kindergarten students. Kindergarten students are between 5-6 years old. For this study, I will be creating lessons plans in the Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia tradition which I will be implementing during the student teaching experience.

To measure the effects of the program, I will be evaluating the students’ participation, interest and work output. I will be using observations and journal writing as methodologies to achieve the research objective. Furthermore, I will also be using student portfolios as basis for any changes in students’ product while attending the sessions. To further validate the data I will be collecting, I will also conduct interviews with other teachers who are employing the same teaching approaches to compare results. Action research has been best approached through the use of qualitative data collection techniques.

Action research employs the use of a ‘triangulation matrix’ to identify three data sources for the issue being studied: observations, portfolios and interviews. The use of these three approaches increases the content validity of the results. References: David, M. (1991). How the Waldorf approach changed a difficult class. Educational Leadership, 49 (2), 55-56. Edwards, C. P. (2002). Three approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio Emilia. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 4 (1). Retrieved from http://ecrp. uiuc. edu/v4n1/ edwards. html Fraser, S. & Gestwicki, C.

(2002). Authentic childhood: Exploring Reggio Emila in the Classroom. Albany, NY: Delmar. Isaacs, B. (2007). Bringing the Montessori approach to your early years practice. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Katz, L. & Galbraith, J. (2006). Making the social visible within inclusive classrooms. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 21 (1), 5-21. Marcon, R. A. (2002). Moving up the grades: Relationship between preschool model and later school success. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 4 (1). Retrieved from: http://ecrp. uiuc. edu/v4n1/marcon. html Mills, G. E. (2003).

Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher (2nd ed. ) Columbus, Ohio: Merrill Prentice Hall. Nicol, J. (2007). Brining the Steiner Waldorf approach to your early years practice. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Prager, D. R. (2001). Three teachers in a Waldorf-inspired public elementary school: A case study of an effective urban learning environment. Retrieved from Proquest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 3033354) Schonleber, N. S. (2006). Culturally congruent education and the Montessori model: Perspectives from Hawaiian culture-based educators. Retrieved from Proquest Digital Dissertations.

(UMI: 3216086) Shilt, D. T. (2009). Examining the nature of literacy activity in public Montessori classrooms. Retrieved from Proquest Digital Dissertations. (UMI: 3392640) Sklar, C. W. (2007). Fostering pro-social behaviors in urban elementary schools: a closer look at the Montessori approach. Retrieved from Proquest Digital Dissertations. (UMI: 3270869) Warash, B. , Curtis, R. , Hursh, D. & Tucci, V. Skinner meets Piaget on the Reggio playground: Practical synthesis of applied behavior analysis and developmentally appropriate practice orientations. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,

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