Saturday, June 16, 2012


Over the past two years as I have taken the required classes for a PhD in Educational Psychology, I have read numerous articles about the benefits of arts education and/or arts-based instruction.  These articles have been used to support the many discussions and directed the focus of my education onto the necessity of the arts in our lives.

Combing the databases, I find that there are many articles that provide needed evidence for those who advocate on behalf of arts in our schools.  Scientific evidence is necessary to those who make decisions and spend taxpayers' money.

Today as I completed one of my last coursework papers, I discussed arts education and public policy.  In the process of writing, I realized how important it is to let people know what the arts do beyond their aesthetics.  As  a result, over the next several months, I have decided to begin posting synopses of the articles I have read for those who are interested.  Hopefully this will provide valuable information for those who need evidence to support their arts programming and arts education  programs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What will you do for your country? ...

Over the past two years, I have taken numerous psychology classes to meet PhD requirements for a degree in Educational Psychology.  Within every class, I have geared my discussion essays and responses to The Arts, and combed the databases for articles to support what I write. As a result, I have uncovered a plethora of studies that support the need for Arts in our lives and evidence of their untapped potential to help our world solve its problems. 

This past quarter, I took a class called "Topics in Adolescence and Childhood".  Each week, we were required to write essays that address problems in adolescence and childhood through Bronfenbrenner's theories and examine the policies and laws that impact our nation's children. Through this query, two things have become obvious to me:  (1) the government -- this entity as it is at this moment -- is unable to meet our nation's needs, and (2) we are the government.

In 1961, when John F. Kennedy spoke at his inaugural address, he challenged this country to find solutions for the nation's problems when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country" (Historic Documents, 2012).  He was right.  We must work to be part of a solution instead of perpetuating or complaining about the problems.  Also ... If we are the government, then we have the responsibility to make our nation a better place, and what better way than in the work of the artist.

When I think of creative solutions to some of the biggest problems in our country, and look to myself for answers to the question: What can "I" do?  I come up with many ideas.  However, two ideas that I am especially are research-based programs that are designed to address numerous issues related to children and adolescents.

The first is a lullaby program for mothers and their babies that will address attachment, postpartum depression, mother well-being, parental confidence and lay the foundation for language acquisition.  If you click on Learning to Lullaby, you will be able to read about a program I have been developing that could help so many young mothers.  It just needs to be implemented.  Who will work with me?

The other is a program to nurture tween girls, a population who are being rushed into maturity without ever really knowing who they are or who they want to be.  It's my most recent idea and I call the program "YOGA-GIRL: Playshops for the emerging tween goddess".  I envision it as a series of playful arts-based/yoga workshops that are research-based and designed to help young girls 'unplug', dream and explore who they are, and who they want to be.  I am launching this one over the summer.

In the process of bringing these programs to light and life, I will be a part of the government and I will be answering Kennedy's challenge ... but instead of asking my country "what" I can do, I'll be able to shout: Hey!!  Here's what I am doing to help ... Check it out!


Historic Documents.  (2012).  Ask not what your country can do for you.  Retrieved from

Saturday, June 2, 2012


            Ever since the "No Child Left Behind" Act (NCLB) was signed into law, education became a hotbed of debate (, n.d.).  This can be attested by the general outpouring of articles that defend NCLB, the public protests against the act’s weakness, the measuring of the effects the act has had on academic achievement, and/or the criticism of its inability to meet the educational needs of this nation. This has led to additional educational reform that keeps reform in the forefront of educational debate. 
It is ironic that in the process of the debate, the original good intention of the educational law is lost.   As attention is placed on the law’s inadequacy and the need for educational reform, the education of children and adolescents is diminished.  Ironically, children are left behind; the educational excellence that is held in esteem eludes the nation as policy makers and educators fight about how best to educate the child.  Nowhere is this more felt than in arts education.
            The way the laws are written, there is room for the arts to remain lost in the shuffle as states and their schools districts fight for educational funding and recognition for academic excellence in meeting standards.  When considering the structure and disbursement of Federal funding to arts education, Federal laws do not require states to include arts education, it only supports arts education by providing some funding.  Next, the states that voluntarily include arts education the school curriculum most often make their school districts responsible for implementing their arts programming. 
This leads to educational inconsistencies in arts instruction because everyone does not agree that arts education is essential, even though Federal law claims it supports the arts.  People are people, and when the people who make decisions for a school district are biased in their opinions about the worth of the arts, funding is not provided and/or programming is cut.  When school districts are ignorant to the overwhelming benefits of arts education, children and adolescents do not have arts education experiences. 
Organizations like the Arts Education Partnership (2012) provide a gateway to reliable and accurate information about the benefits of arts education.  ArtsEd Search (2012) acts as a clearinghouse of peer-reviewed articles, dissertations and other supporting reports that support arts education.  This site is free and easily accessed; it is a tremendous aid for arts advocates because findings from valid research can be amassed to support the need for arts education in schools. Yet even so, the inconsistencies remain because every school district has a different idea of what children should know and what students should learn, and decisions are made accordingly.  Bias plays a huge role in determining what is important and who will hear what arts advocates have to say.
What is ironic is that while research consistently provides evidence that arts education improves education and positively addresses almost every educational problem, school districts are either ignorant of this evidence or they ignore the overwhelming benefits.  When decisions are made to remove or reduce arts education to improve test scores, research shows that the decisions makers are going in the opposite direction of their educational goals.  With so much evidence showing that arts education help schools and students attain their educational goals, why isn’t there an increase in arts education?  When placed in this light, decision makers who remove arts education to make way for more math and more science appear a bit ridiculous because they become less effective in providing the highest quality of education to children and irresponsible with the taxpayer’s money.
For example, in a recent study in Switzerland about the impact of musical training on school performance (Wetter, Koerner, & Schwaninger, 2009), researchers found that elementary students who had continuous musical training from grades 3 to 6 had greater academic achievement than those who did not, even when considering socio-economic status of the participants.  In a quasi-experimental design with three groups, the musical training was tested against every subject, except physical education.  Across the four-year span of their investigations, they found evidence that children who maintain a steady diet of musical instruction experience higher achievement in every subject.
The arts are a powerful tool; evidence repeatedly shows that arts instruction helps children and adolescents achieve and often surpass the academic goals policymakers set.  When this power is ignored, the education system is using a metaphorical rowboat instead of a motorboat.  Right now, educators seem to be more concerned with reforming laws instead of providing an education.  If they are really serious about providing high quality education for every child, arts education should be embraced, expanded and explored.  Until this happens, the laws are only lip service.  
 What is the solution to making arts education important? Arts advocates either need to become part of the decision making body and make the changes themselves, or they must educate as many people as possible, unite with them, and make changes as a movement.  Otherwise, the arts will remain a core subject in name only.  If the artistic disciplines are to be true core subjects, their power must be unequivocally acknowledged and taken seriously.   

Americans for the Arts. (2005).  No Subject Left Behind.  Retrieved from
Arts Education Partnership.  (2012).  Retrieved from
ArtsEd Search.   (2012).  Retrieved from  (n.d.)  Elementary & secondary education: Subpart 15 –arts in education.  Retrieved from (n.d.)  H.R. 1804 GOALS 2000: Educate america act.  Retrieved from

Wetter, O., Koerner, F., & Schwaninger, A. (2009). Does Musical Training Improve School Performance?. Instructional Science: An International Journal Of The Learning Sciences, 37(4), 365-374


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Improving School Performance through Musical Training

 Does Musical Training Improve School Performance?  This was a research question posed by Wetter, Koerner & Schwaninger, and they published a report of their findings in Instructional Science: An International Journal Of The Learning Sciences (2009).  Yet, as a composer/playwright, and prior to my PhD coursework in Psychology, I had always thought the answer to this question was a resounding “YES!” because from what I have observed in the last thirty years of my life as an artist, it just seems like people who study the arts “know” more, or “think” more.  Yet, until scientific evidence is collected, The Arts in education have very little to stand on, and, in general, I find that education systems neither respect nor believe the voice of the artist.
During the last two years of my PhD coursework, I have focused my discussion posts around The Arts and how necessary and beneficial they are to human development.  For my most recent discussion post, I could not find an article with the right research methodology (multiple regression) that could contribute to a potential dissertation topic about lullabies, so I typed in multiple regression (the topic of the discussion) and music into the database search engine, and up popped a very interesting article that drew correlations between musical training and school performance (Wetter, Koerner  & Schwaninger, 2009). 
In a retrospective study, Wetter, Koerner & Schwaninger (2009) compared three groups of students (Grades 3 through 6): those who practiced music and those who did not, and those who participated in learning handicrafts.  They were careful to test all subjects (except sports) and took great care to consider socio-economic status (SES).  Using a multiple regression analysis, they found a positive correlation between continuous musical training and school performance, and that continuous musical training appears to help a student achieve and maintain high levels over time. 
Since the researchers were interested in the duration of musical training, they concentrated their study to participants from third through sixth grade.  They hypothesized that students who have studied longer would show greater strength than students who recently begin musical practice.  They present several sound options for the interpretation of their results by first offering the explanation that “there are no significant pre-existing or initial neural, cognitive, motor, or musical differences” (p. 371) between children before they choose to learn an instrument.  Secondly, they explain how more affluent parents can afford extra-curricular musical activities that enhance a child’s academic success, and third, they offer evidence that music activates cerebral regions of the brain involved in the processing of language.  By considering and addressing these elements in the design, the researchers were able to argue their points effectively.  The average scores reflected the advancement of student academic performance when paired with music instruction.
The article offers evidence to support reasons why we must keep and increase a child’s exposure to The Arts and encourage arts-based instruction in our classrooms.  If music and/or arts education is not provided to children, and especially to those in lower SES, where and when will these children have an opportunity to learn?   Won’t they be left behind? 
Based on this study, if musical instruction boosts academic performance as Wetter, Koerner & Schwaninger  (2009) suggest, then why is music the first to go when budgets are tight?  Wouldn’t tax dollars be better spent on arts instruction?  It certainly would seem be a more efficient (and responsible) approach.  So I challenge policy makers, parents and education administrators--everyone--with this question:  What would happen if our education systems made The Arts central in the design of its curriculum?  After all, isn’t one of the primary goals of education to increase academic achievement?  Without The Arts, it seems education will only be working ‘hard instead of smart’.

Wetter, O., Koerner, F., & Schwaninger, A. (2009). Does Musical Training Improve School Performance?. Instructional Science: An International Journal Of The Learning Sciences, 37(4), 365-374.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why Music Should Remain in Schools: A Sixth Grader's Perspective

Tonight as I was rummaging through old papers, I ran across interesting samples of my daughter's school work.  In particular, I found a short essay she wrote in sixth grade that responded to the prompt: "Music should remain part of the school curriculum because ..." I remember the night she wrote that essay because she entered it into an on-line essay contest and she had to struggle to keep the number of words under 250.  I also remember thinking  that it was good.  Tonight, I was even more intrigued by what she had to say because she made very important points.  Here is what she wrote:

"Music should remain part of the school curriculum because it taps into a different part of the soul that academics cannot reach.  Sure, a person can be good at math, or have amazing vocabulary skills, but music is another language.  It is different from everything else taught, and learning music is not something easily tapped into as an adult.

Part of why it is important to keep music in the curriculum is that most people are not in an environment where they are encouraged to take part in musical activities.  In school, a person has a chance to explore it.

Learning to play an instrument is a "life skill" that may help them later on because it increases their knowledge about the world.  In addition, it gives them something  interesting to talk about.  Knowing how to play an instrument creates activities where someone can meet others who share the same passion, even creating life-long friends.

Music is a powerful tool that people use to get their thoughts and feelings across.  It is an important part of our lives. Without it, forms of communication, venting emotions, and spiritual awareness could not be accessed.

As a society, how can we neglect something that makes us feel better after doing it?  How could we ever hope to achieve high levels of music making without proper education?  Music must remain part of our curriculum if we want to be an educated and happy society."  --Elibba Dean

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In Context ...

Today I made an impromptu visit to the Advanced Voice Class at Penfield High School after working with Lindsay earlier in a senior English class.  It was fantastic to see everyone and to hear the voice class perform again because (1) they are awesome, and (2) it has been a little over a week since I heard them give their stunning performance at the Women in Music Festival in the Main Hall at Eastman School of Music.   

During today’s visit, they were continuing to rehearse one of the songs from the cycle, “#18 Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” It is the beginning song in the cycle, and at the start of the class, they had some questions about the work itself.  How did we envision it?  What was the feeling?  What was the moment?  For a composer, these kinds of questions are the most powerful moments in the collaborative process because the work is “speaking” to the performers.  This is evident BECAUSE the work is being questioned. 

What this means for us as composers is that the performers are trying to “get inside our heads” in order to understand how we thought about the work as we composed the music.  By asking these kinds of questions, they are comparing their own experiences with ours to gain insight and understanding.  In the case of #18, I described an early April morning at the edge of 2008 Lilac Festival at Highland Park.  This beautiful walk Lindsay and I took four years ago was the inspirational moment that we drew upon, and what directly contributed to our creation of the music. 

For a performer, this is an exciting step in understanding “Truth in Beauty” because each Shakespeare sonnet --in and of itself-- is already a complete work even without the music.  Also, each sonnet could be interpreted or understood differently when music is not present.  However, with the additional layer of music and musical form, a sonnet is transformed, and each sonnet within the cycle is shaped and interpreted by the actual construction of the composition.  This is why clarification is needed and why composer/performer interaction is so valuable.  This sophisticated process is what ultimately helps a performer interpret the work. 

 “Truth in Beauty” is an ensemble experience for the Advanced Voice Class, and their process is creating a masterful experience.  They are thinking of the work from an individual perspective and then contributing this thinking to a collaborative experience.  This is what makes them advanced singers, and this is what makes their work as singers so extraordinary.  Their thoughtfulness is placing everything in context and taking their performances to high levels.  The result is that they are living the text and expressing the essence.  For Lindsay and me, it is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to work with such a talented director and intelligent singers and we are embracing the joy of every moment with them.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Making Life Meaningful ...

Today, the uber-talented Jeffry Denman posted this YouTube video on his FaceBook page.  In less than three minutes, it illustrates the unique place the arts have in making life meaningful in whatever professional endeavor we choose, or path we take in our lives ...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Teaching Morality through Drama: Truth in Imaginary Circumstance

How can teens be prepared to make moral choices? Is it wise to expose them to moral dilemma through theoretical situations in theatrical settings, or is it better for them to learn hard lessons from experience--letting them pass or fail--and then reflect on the consequences of their choices? 

But first ... what is moral development?
Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg is largely associated with the development of morality.  Kohlberg's ideas show “how” people develop their ability to make moral choices through levels and stages, instead of "what" moral choices are (Berk, 2012). Kohlberg theorized that moral maturity levels can be understood through a person’s growth in decision-making processes and he organized his observations about these processes into three levels: 

(1) The Preconventional Level, which is controlled by the external forces of rules and people in authority. It is comprised of Stage 1 (punishment and obedience orientation) and Stage 2 (instrumental purpose orientation).

(2) The Conventional Level, which is governed by a person’s belief that societal order must be maintained. It is comprised of Stage 3 (morality of interpersonal cooperation) and Stage 4 (social-order-maintaining orientation). 

(3) The Principled Level, which defines morality in abstract ideas. It is comprised of Stage 5 (social contract orientation) and Stage 6 (universal ethical principle orientation.)

Due to the longitudinal studies of Kohlberg and those who followed his research, the observations from these studies reveal that Stages 1 and 2 decrease in early adolescence while Stages 3 and 4 increase. Evidence from Kohlberg’s studies also show that most people do not move beyond Stage 4. In other words, most people never reach high levels of moral reasoning (Berk, 2012). 

As early as 1968, Kugelmass & Breznitz found in their results from a study of intentionality in adolescence, that there is a great deal of moral development occurring during late adolescence. The adolescent moves between the three levels and settles into habits of the higher stages. 

This was supported in Perry & McIntire’s 1995 study on the modes of moral judgment in early adolescence where they found that teens (especially young teens) use several modes to make moral choices, which touch on all six stages of Kohlberg’s theory. These include caring about others, using the “golden rule”, and moral decisions based on selfishness. 

Because there is so much instability in making moral choices during adolescence, Perry & McIntire (1995) argued that development and implementation of moral education is appropriate. This idea is supported in the work of Harding & Snyder (1991), who believe that the arts—and more specifically film—could aid in bringing about discussions, and they presented a rationale for using literature and contemporary film in school curriculum. 

However, in the relatively recent research of Laible & Carol (2008) on moral affect and moral cognition, they show that parental involvement impacts areas of moral development of teenagers when related to bullying. Their study indicated that parents who instill higher levels of moral affect (guilt, shame, sympathy and ehpathic anger) were correlated with prosocial behavior and moral conduct. They also showed that higher levels of moral cognition improved altruistic behavior. 

So no matter which side of the debate a person takes about moral education, what seems to be crucial in the development of higher levels of morality, is the involvement of more mature adults in teenage discussion. To develop higher levels of morality, teens must develop awareness. This occurs through interaction and observation. If a teen is to be aware of making moral decisions, he or she must be able to discuss the implications of those choices.

As a morally responsible adult and fully formed artist, I believe that drama and drama-based instruction could be a key to developing moral education curriculum because theater has the power to create truths of reality in imaginary circumstances. When a play is well written on subjects involving any moral issue, this conflict becomes the heart of the play and the drama sparks discussion because it illustrates consequences of choices to many people who watch the play.

This became obvious to me in a reading of a play called “Personal Foul” that my writing partner and I wrote and produced in New York this past fall. The play was less than 30 minutes and yet it was powerful enough to spark a 45-minute discussion after it was read. 

As playwrights, we examined the topic of sexual misconduct between teacher and student by setting our play in the high school Football/Cheerleading culture. By using the Orion/Artemis myths, we loosely structured the play with the form of Greek Tragedy. A squad of cheerleaders represented the Greek chorus and made commentary on the action of the play as the audience witnessed a high school football coach (Orion) and a senior cheerleader (Artemis) struggle with their sexual attraction to each other. 

Drama is conflict.  And ... drama within a theatrical setting provides a forum in which an audience can confront moral conflict without the consequences they would encounter in real life.  It shows each an audience member what they think about tough subjects and prompts discussion.  It makes them "aware".  As a result, theater can teach morality and help a society shape the kind of morality it wishes to portray.

Berk, L. E. (2012). Infants, children, and adolescents (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN: 9780205718160.

Harding, C. G., & Snyder, K. (1991). Tom, huck, and oliver stone as advocates in kohlbergs just community: Theory-based strategies for moral education. Adolescence, 26(102), 319-29. Retrieved from

Kugelmass, S., & Breznitz, S. (1968). Intentionality in moral judgment: Adolescent development. Child Development, 39(1), 249.

Laible, D., Eye, J., & Carlo, G. (2008). Dimensions of conscience in mid-adolescence: Links with social behavior, parenting, and temperament. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(7), 875-887. Retrieved from

Perry, C. M., & McIntire, W. G. (1995). Modes of moral judgment among early adolescents. Adolescence, 30(119), 707-15. Retrieved from

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Power of Words …

Lindsay & I spent the morning at Penfield High School, and what a fantastic day it was!! Not only did we have an amazing time sharing the Piano/Vocal score with the Advanced Voice class, but also, as part of the Shakespeare Sonnet Project, we are working with several of the English classes ... and … today, we started our morning’s work with a 9th Grade English class, who, in a few days, will begin reading “Romeo and Juliet”. In preparation for their reading of that play, Lindsay & I had the great privilege to introduce the class to the language of Shakespeare through #18 “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”.

It is an amazing poem, no question about it … but … what struck me most about it today is that even after having intimately worked with this sonnet since the fall, (as we translated the text into a choral work), I am still AWED by Shakespeare’s words and the significance of what he had to say.

Upon first reading, most people assume that the sonnet is about immortalizing a romantic love. However, scholars tell us that #18 was written about a male friendship. And … in 14 lines of only 140 syllables, Shakespeare goes to the heart of love in friendship as he likens his friend to something more wonderful and better than a day in summer.

Summer is lovely, but it has faults (i.e. Shakespeare complains that the sun can be too hot, or it can be cloudy … and of course, summer is never long enough). He personifies the sun (the eye of heaven) and death (that it can brag), later claiming that the essence of his friend will always live because it is captured in the written words.

What is even more astounding is that the sonnet also predicts how the friend’s beauty will only continue to grow through time. And … six hundred years later, Shakespeare’s words reign true. This was evident today as a 9th Grade English class encountered this sonnet, its form and its genius for the first time … powerful, powerful words!

“As long as men can breathe, and eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Shakespeare was right. It does!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Piaget’s Theory of Adolescent Cognition: Relevant and Timeless

An Overview

Jean Piaget presented five areas of adolescent cognitive development.  These include (1) formal operations, which is the fourth stage of his well-known stages of cognitive development, (2) hypothetic-deductive reasoning, (3) propositional thought, (4) the imaginary audience, and (5) the personal fable (Oswalt, 2012). 

Formal operations is the ability to think abstractly.  For an adolescent, it is the ability to think about intangible concepts such as “truth” or “sustainability”.  An adolescent with the ability to think abstractly can describe events they have never seen or experienced.  Piaget thought that youths normally entered the stage of formal operations around 11 years of age (Oswalt, 2012). 

Hypothetico-deductive reasoning is the ability to think abstractly in a more scientific and logical manner.  This ability helps a person solve problems by working on one aspect of the problem (Oswalt, 2012).  For example, a person comes into a dark room and tries the light switch, which doesn’t work.  The person assumes that the light has burned out and goes and gets a light bulb.  He inserts the new light bulb, but it still doesn’t work, so he checks to see if the light is plugged in.  He finds that the light is indeed unplugged and plugs it in and voila!

Propositional thought is the ability to make a logical conclusion based on the wording of a statement rather than the observation of it (Oswalt, 2012).  A good example of this kind of thinking occurs in yoga audio podcasts vs. a yoga video podcast.  In an audio podcast, the person doing the yoga practice must rely on the logic of the words to perform the practice, whereas someone who does not have this ability must rely on a video.

The imaginary audience is a heightened awareness of others and the ability to make judgments, interpret and observe.  In adolescence, this newly acquired awareness develops at a time when their bodies are changing; the adolescent feels feel the scrutiny of others and develops the ability to do the same to others (Oswalt, 2012). 

The personal fable is also a characteristic in adolescence.  This is where teens develop the ability to compare themselves to others and they begin to notice their personal strengths and weaknesses (Oswalt, 2012). 

Contemporary Relevance

Piaget’s theories are relevant today.  Burman (2008) argues that the age of a person during each stage of cognitive development, as framed by Piaget’s stages, are not what are important, rather the sequence of the development is.  This is how Piaget thought cognition evolves.  Piaget’s stages are the labels and general mechanism of how intelligence and cognitive thinking develops. 

Gruber (1996) conducted several interviews with Piaget before he died.  One of the most striking themes that emerged from these interviews was the use of metaphor throughout the lifespan.  Gruber expounds on Piaget’s ideas on the use of metaphors as a means to help construct thought.  He explains how Piaget used metaphor throughout his own life and related it to cognitive development throughout all the cognitive development stages.  The metaphor is the “gadget” (p.258) that allows the person to “draw something from it” (p. 258) no matter where the person is within the lifespan.  For example, a child would use a toy as a metaphor to understand or construct knowledge.  Abstract thoughts and ideas in formal operations are the metaphors and adolescent might use such as the ability to dream about the future, or associate a life circumstance to a pop song. 

Ayman-Nolley (1999) supports the relevance of Piaget’s theories as he explores the abstract ability to create artistically.  Using Piagetian theory, he drew parallels between cognition and behavior.  In Piagetian terms, cognition is equated with the creative process that initiates creative output.  In other words, when a thought cannot be assimilated into the existing cognitive structures, the mind accommodates.  The accommodation results in the creative product. 
One of the ways Ayman-Nolley (1999) presented Piaget’s theory in context was his example of Michelangelo’s expression of God. Michelangelo depicted the concept of a higher power or God as an old man.  He took his abstract thought of God and assimilated this thought into an abstract metaphor that inspired him to paint the image.  This accommodated his thought. 

Adolescents are called on every day to express thought through the curriculum if given the chance to create.  This occurs in language arts classes when they are required to write and essay, in an art class, or when they work together collaboratively to put on a school musical. 
In conclusion, whether or not a person supports or chooses to draw insights from Piagetian theory, Piaget’s ideas will always have a place in any discussion of cognition.  Piaget wrote extensively about it and conducted numerous experiments testing his ideas.  When these facts are coupled with the fact that cognitive development occurs, Piaget’s theories will always be relevant. 
Ayman-Nolley, S. (1999). A Piagetian perspective on the dialectic process of creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 12(4), 267. Retrieved from
Burman, J. T. (2008). Experimenting in relation to piaget: Education is a chaperoned process of adaptation. Perspectives on Science, 16(2), 160-195. Retrieved from
Gruber, H. E. (1996). The life space of a scientist: The visionary function and other aspects of jean piaget's thinking.Creativity Research Journal, 9(2), 251. Retrieved from
Oswalt, A.  (2012).  Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development – child development theory: Adolescence.  Retrieved January 20, 2012 from

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Living Shakespeare ...

Yesterday, Lindsay and I completed the fifth sketch of the five sonnets we will be using in the Shakespeare Sonnet Project. It was a glorious moment to realize all of the sonnets in song form because they are ready to arrange. 

What has been so extraordinary about this process is how the words have begun to shape my life. A good example of what I mean is #18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" In working with Shakespeare's words, I ponder the nature of my relationships with the people I love most ... and in this case (because the sonnet was written about a friend) the extraordinary friendship I have with Lindsay ... not only is she a great collaborator, but she is one of my dearest friends.

When I get to the couplet, it is Shakespeare's words that make me believe without question in the power of art ... and in the amazing miracle of collaboration. With every note we write, we build something that is meant to preserve the sonnet into song ... and we preserve our extraordinary friendship.  Through THAT, we both realize Shakespeare's truth:

"So long as men can breathe and eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

With #54 "O how much more does beauty beauteous seem", it makes me think about the inner beauty of those I meet. When youth fades, the beauty of what is inside is what remains. In Shakespeare's case, the person's beauty is distilled like the essence of a rose and captured in the words he wrote.

What is so incredible to me is how in working with the text, my mind turns to beauteous thought even when I am not working on the settings. The act of translating five sonnets into song is transforming my life--especially my thoughts. It is living Shakespeare!