National Arts & Learning Foundation at Walnut Hill
MissionThe National Arts & Learning Foundation (NALF) at Walnut Hill supports entrepreneurial school- and community-based initiatives, generally in the public sector, in creative, learner-centered, arts-based, K-12 educational pathways aimed at developing the multiple intelligences within each student.
GoalsThese goals and beliefs are central to the Foundation and guide its funding choices.
- To encourage within schools multiple opportunities to develop the full capabilities of each child—physical, cognitive, artistic, spiritual—and to stimulate and give disciplined expression to the imagination.
- To support a culture of high standards and expectations in schools.
- To engage students positively in their own education by building on their interests and talents.
- To support through the effective education of students, the development of a civil and ethically grounded citizenry in the belief that such a citizenry is the basis for a just democracy.
NALF's Beliefs and Assumptions
- All efforts towards school reform must be broad-based and inclusive of many constituencies in the larger community.
- Successful reform must address issues of the fiscal and organizational structures of schools, as well as programmatic content.
- Arts must become imbedded in the core curriculum and in schools’ budgets for sustainable systemic change. A persuasive argument about the efficacy of arts in the core curriculum as a pathway to learning must be articulated, made accessible to a broad public Cell phone rates, and supported by business and community voices in addition to educators and artists. It is important that as many art forms as possible be taught as "disciplines" by specialists to engage the full power of education through the arts.
- In order to benefit from existing school reform efforts, the voice of other reform models contribute to this conversation.
Need StatementPublic schooling seeks reform through many initiatives, including the standards movement, revised curricular models based on the ideas of theorists and practitioners such as Ted Sizer, Howard Gardner, and Robert Sternberg, and calls for change in the financial and organizational structures of schools themselves. Leading educators increasingly call for small, autonomous schools of choice with oversight functions exercised by districts rather than "command and control" management structures.
Reform initiatives often seem disconnected from one another, with little broad-based understanding of either the initiatives or how they relate to one another. The arts continue to be seen primarily as enrichment, and even when the arts are part of reform strategies, there is confusion about what models are to be used and which are effective.
NALF RationaleIt is the position of NALF that many of the goals of educational reform can be met by incorporating the arts into the core curriculum of schools.
Arts as part of the core curriculum supports the following school reform goals:
The fundamental principle behind NALF’s position is that not only is learning in the arts valuable in and of itself, but the process of learning in the arts also creates an important and broadly accessible pathway to all learning. This concept is called, "education through the arts."
- to provide an educational program that maximizes opportunities for every child to develop his/her multiple intelligences;
- to provide a curriculum that develops in all disciplines the imaginative and creative thinking and action that is the basis for higher-level functioning and for new ideas in all areas of life;
- and, to create a school culture characterized by high, clear, and internalized standards.
NALF understands that education through the arts cannot be the only approach to school reform. Indeed, it is our assumption that there are other viable avenues towards this end. However, we believe that this approach to school reform is a particularly effective, accessible, and underutilized one.
A Sampling of NALF ActivitiesNALF Publications Library
NALF publishes and houses arts and education advocacy publications. NALF currently features the writings of arts advocate Eric Oddleifson, which were previously held at the Center for the Arts in the Basic Curriculum (CABC). The writings of Stephanie Perrin, Head of School teachers, Walnut Hill School of the Arts—an independent, residential arts high school located in the Boston, MA, area—are also featured in the NALF Publications Library. A recent addition to the NALF Publications Library includes, "Education through the Arts: A Model for Education Reform and Citizenship in the 21st Century." This publication, based on the proceedings of a NALF-sponsored symposium held at the Julliard School in 1998, features the views of several educators, artists, professors of human development and education, and arts administrators.
In 1998, NALF published a qualitative research study on the Walnut Hill School by Professor Jessica Davis, Director, Arts in Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education. With the help of graduate and doctoral student assistants at Harvard, Davis created a "portrait" or research narrative describing the school.
Other NALF Supported Activities
- NALF helped the Conservatory Lab Charter School—a recently opened Boston charter school that serves inner-city children with a mission of "learning through music"—to meet a start-up matching grant.
- NALF supported The Education Cooperative (TEC), Wellesley, MA, in providing professional development and curriculum workshops for teachers to promote the establishment of the arts as a core subject requirement in thirteen schools within the Metro-West Boston area.
- NALF has helped to create and maintain an on-line Unified Application for Music Conservatories for young musicians applying to college. A second unified application for visual arts colleges is currently in preparation.
- Support was granted to an artist/teacher to develop and provide workshops for public school students and teachers with "The Mask Characterization Theater Arts Project."
- Funds have been given to conduct innovative program assessments of two new arts academies in the greater Boston area: The Boston Arts Academy and The Conservatory Lab Charter School.
A Brief History of NALF
- In 1989, Eric Oddleifson created the Center for Arts in the Basic Curriculum (CABC) to carry forward his ideas about the need for the arts to be central to the missions of all schools. CABC had a small but stellar board, which included Howard Gardner and Harriet Fulbright, and published a significant library of new thinking on the efficacy of education through the arts.
- In 1992, Mr. Oddleifson became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Walnut Hill School. There, he found a laboratory of education through the arts, and new thinking by the Head of School, Stephanie Perrin, and others. The Walnut Hill School also wished to promote the concept of "education through the arts" to public schools and other organizations, and had created an internal Center for Arts and Learning to serve that purpose.
- In 1999, CABC merged with the Center for Arts and Learning to form the recently incorporated, not-for-profit, National Arts & Learning Foundation at Walnut Hill.