How can we make children happier and engaged in learning?
The arts are the answer.
Arts integration in education is based on a thoughtful and well-reasoned look at a substantial body of research that shows strong positive relationships between arts involvement and academic gain.
Research now substantiates what some teachers and parents already knew intuitively – the arts are critical to learning.
The MUS-E Cyprus non-profit association’s goal follows this intuition and research: it brings the arts in school settings, especially within primary schools. MUS-E knows that each school class is a micro-world mirroring current social circumstances and acting as a lab in which a considerable part of children’s development and directions of growth is shaped.
MUS-E brings qualified artists into the classroom to work with children and teachers during curricular hours to produce multi-art works together. In the unfolding of this joyful action, children acquire a legacy of skills that help them to become healthy, balanced, creative, inclusive, curious and conscious, as children today, and as adults tomorrow.
MUS-E was recently opened in Cyprus thanks to a long-term work relationship of its founders, Teresa Dello Monaco, Paolo Cremona and Maria Demosthenous with the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation that presides the MUS-E Network, a vibrant group of 14 associations in different countries in Europe and Israel, very active for 25 years.
MUS-E Cyprus is committed to bring art workshops to any school in Cyprus, with emphasis to schools in rural areas and with greater social contrasts and cultural diversity. All MUS-E workshops are free of charge for schools and parents as the association works on their own sustainability plans. The artists go on a weekly basis to the schools that have required their intervention, and work with the same children for a period of three years.
A first event to celebrate the artwork that children at Agropikia primary school made with the pianist, music educator and co-director of MUS-E Cyprus, took place on June 14 at the Agropikia Square.
It was a taste of a broader work that will start in the next school year.
The work was based on ‘The Little Prince’, a famous children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator.
The novella, a worldwide best-selling voted the best book of the 20th century in France, has been recently translated into Cypriot by Iakovos Hadjipieris. MUS-E has connected the story to traditional Cypriot music and was very pleased with the result: the children prepared their own lyrics to the songs inspired by The Little Prince and sung them in the form of Tsiatista. Iakovos Hadjipieris attended the rehearsals and was impressed by the children’s energy, creativity, involvement and vibrant performance. He himself had prepared previously a theatrical play of The Little Prince in Cypriot dialect.
The event in the Agropikia square was amazing, with children excited and prepared to give their best, with the involvement and attendance of the whole community and with a dinner offered by the mukhtar.
MUS-E believes that artists need to be connected to education. The gift they bring to society needs to be shared and used in educational settings.
Furthermore, the arts deliver precisely the kind of thinking and working skills needed in the workplace of the new millennium: higher order thinking, imagination and creativity, risk-taking and experimentation, teamwork, technological competences, flexible thinking, appreciation for diversity, self-discipline, persistence and taking initiative.
More importantly the arts make school a wonderful place for children to be happy, and for teachers to be even more creative and enthusiastic in their daily work with the children.
Every year the MUS-E work is evaluated through professional, detailed procedures and the results made visible for further understanding of the value of the arts in education. The evaluation follows scientific criteria, set up by academics in different fields. Nevertheless, we may subscribe what the Little Prince says: ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye’.
The speeches at the Agrokipia square, before the children’s performance, were held by Teresa Dello Monaco, MUS-E co-director, and Sophie Lupcin who works in Brussels as head of communication of the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation.