Lindsay Brazell

Music Educator and Creative Professional

A Response to the film “Class Act” (2007)

I had to watch this film for my Arts in Education class and write a response…so I thought I’d share! You can find the Hulu link at the bottom. I suggest watching it when you have an hour and a half to kill! 🙂

Upon searching for Class Act on the Google, I came across a poorly rated film with the same title about two school aged boys facing stereotypes whose permanent records get switched, therefor their identities were confused by teachers and peers. When I located the film on Hulu, I was elated that this was not the film I had to watch, but rather a more relevant documentary discussing arts in education. Within the first few minutes, Jay Jensen had me hooked. Hearing his thoughts on arts education, as well as the view of other educators and individuals in the industry, I began to reflect on my views and experiences in my own education experiences.

There are four things that struck me while viewing Class Act, along with some questions that entered my mind:

  1. The film included all arts, from performance to visual. Even though some areas were highlighted more than others, I feel it is important to include every discipline when discussing arts education. It is often forgotten or overlooked that all of the arts disciplines have one central theme that binds them together: expression. While the technical skills and literature vary between fields, students involved in arts education learn how to express themselves and how to interpret and appreciate the expression of others. How do we as arts educators convey the importance of teaching expression? Artists can easily understand, but what about the business folk, engineers and scientists? While they may appreciate and enjoy various art forms, we continue to advocate their importance in the education system. Class Act did a great job of including all arts disciplines, displaying real students in arts classrooms expressing themselves, which made the film’s presentation stronger.
  2. Most of the interviewed teachers seemed to have negative feelings for No Child Left Behind. I have heard several of my own teacher’s stances on NCLB, but often wondered where the rest of the nation’s arts educators stood. For my Trends and Issues in Music Education class, we read a response to NCLB titled, No Subject Left Behind: A Guide to Arts Education Opportunities in the 2001 NCLB Act. Since this film was created in 2007, I found it apparent that a lot of the issues addressed in the document had not been resolved. How are we advocating for the arts as a core subject? Has progress been made since 2001? While I know there are lots of organizations advocating for the arts, I am unsure of the progress. I am interested in locating statistics about the number of arts programs in public schools in the last ten years.
  3. The film seemed to cater mostly to low-income schools.  If there were one aspect of the film that I would change or add, it would be a comparison to successful arts programs to those schools struggling or without arts programs. Like any feedback system, it is important to highlight success. What are successful arts programs doing that enhance their school’s performance? Is money a crucial part of a successful arts program?  I would be interested in exploring ideas to create models for successful arts programs with little to no funding.
  4. One teacher influenced so many successful individuals in the arts industry. Hearing Jay Jensen speak and seeing his influence on arts industry members was truly inspiring. One of my own teachers from high school told me that, We are today because of who we were yesterday.  For those of us that wanted to make it better for others, we teach.” I think the best teachers are those that invest in their students and want to make a difference. Some of our students will go on to pursue careers in the arts, some will not. Both groups are equally as important! I strive to be a positive influence to my future students!

About Lindsay

I’m Lindsay, a choral music educator by day, a singer-songwriter by evening, and a writer when time allows. You can find my latest album, The Room I Found – Lindsay Morelli on iTunes.

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