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Lincoln Center - An Emphasis on Aesthetic Education and The Development of Imagination

Lincoln Center Institute
The Arts and Education:
Shifting the Paradigm1

For many of us, it is a given that the arts have a place in education. For others, it is a
struggle. And for some it seems anathema to the emphasis on mathematics and literacy
skills. While the views on the role of the arts differ greatly, the images that the arts in the
classroom evoke are, for the most part, the same. For elementary education, it’s finger
paint, collages, Craypas, tempera at an easel, playing the recorder (or another simple
instrument), and seeing performances in an auditorium. Thoughts of middle school and
high school bring forth images of chorus, band, arts skills courses, and trips to museums
for art appreciation. And, for those who are seen as talented, there are individual lessons.
At Lincoln Center Institute (LCI), we think of the arts and education in different terms.
We think that studying complex works of art through experiences with the art form and
its context is the quintessential way to foster the imagination, a cognitive capacity valued
not only across the school curriculum, but beyond the classroom, throughout our lives.
Our experience in hundreds of classrooms tells us this cognitive capacity can, and should,
be nurtured in elementary education as a way to set the foundation for later imaginative
growth through middle school, high school, and college.

Overview of LCI and links to key 'White Papers'

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