Friday, June 28, 2019

Trauma Informed Education: Teaching for Artistic Behavior Curriculum Experience

A Curriculum That Addresses Adverse Childhood Experience

Twenty one percent of all children in the USA under the age of 18 live in poverty.
Approximately 50% of all children in the USA will experience their parents separation or divorce.
Approximately 1 in 5 children will suffer from a significant form of mental illness during their school years.
More than 1 in 5 children are targeted regularly for bullying.
Thirty percent of all children in the USA will have experienced three or more adverse childhood experiences before the age of 18.

Disaffected, disengaged, disruptive, angry and alienated children exist in vast numbers within America. In the USA, statistically significant numbers of children experience trauma in one form or another. The school inherits the affect of the trauma experiences those children carry with them.
Does the mechanization of school curricula structured around behavioral objectives exacerbate the problem of children affected by adverse childhood trauma?
How are schools in the USA doing responding to the needs of students who suffer from adverse childhood trauma?

My answer: Not very well.

Why is there a school bullying epidemic?
Why are school districts continuously reporting thousands of student behavioral infractions each year to their state departments of education?
Why is the USA's high school drop out rate at or above 10% across the country?
Why is teen suicide the second highest cause of death in the USA?
Why do significant numbers of children hate school?
Why do vast numbers of young people who are eligible to vote, not vote?
Why are children bringing guns to school?
What is the affect of increased computer screen time on the developing minds of children? Is increased school-based screen time neurologically and socially beneficial to children?
Trauma in the lives of children is a problematic conundrum for school districts to address because administrators and educators are under great pressure to assess children's learning with high stakes standardized tests regularly (10-20 standardized test events) throughout the school year.

This means the curricula, the reason for the school's existence and single greatest activity event experienced by the child in school, is structured around high stakes standardized testing content.  Make no mistake, wherever schools are judged by the state with student test data, the curricula is fundamentally a standardized test preparation experience centered upon information processing activities and learning objectives the child has had little or no part in developing.

The school counselor, nurse or concerned educator might consider the child's psycho-emotional conditions and constant evolving present but does the curricula?

A child volunteers to work on a public art project set up inside our Teaching for Artistic Behavior art room.
If we are to recognize the biological nature of the human condition (mind), one that concludes the architecture of the child's mind (and all humans) is based in the emotional realm, then we recognize that TAB is a responsive educational experience that responds to time sensitive and emotional needs of the learner.

The TAB curriculum IS designed by art teachers for child autonomy from a multiplicity of entry points.
There is a whole lot of learning and possibilities for creative activity going on in TAB classrooms!
TAB classroom art studios feature learning centers and instructional menus that facilitate children's time sensitive desire to learn at their own pace and schedule.

There are many factors involved in effectively alleviating, treating and caring for children affected by trauma. The TAB classroom offers a safe, supportive, nurturing environment, opportunities for empowerment, self-expression and affirmation of the individual through the pursuit of personal art ideas. Considering the work of trauma care specialists Roger D. Fallot, Ph.D. and Maxine Harris, Ph.D, Teaching for Artistic Behavior learning environments and curriculum structures meet or exceed the core values utilized to ameliorate and care for trauma affected individuals. Those values are safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment.
TAB studio learning environments are designed for student autonomy and the stimulation of student agency, creative collaboration and alternative forms of creative learning experience. The primary curriculum is always focused on art.
In a TAB classroom, students have choices to direct their learning. In this photograph children examine research, develop special projects, engage in individual projects or collaborate.
Collaboration and art play are a natural feature of TAB learning activities.

Because TAB curriculum experiences can be learner driven and are consensual, the child has control over the content, schedule, learning objectives, methods and materials of their learning activity. 

Teaching for Artistic Behavior educational practice features the core values of Fallot's and Harris' trauma informed care protocol as a way to access, develop and enhance an individual's unique creative capacity. TAB learning environments are special places where all children, including trauma affected individuals succeed and learn naturally. The conditions for authentic creativity that exist in TAB classrooms are not a periodic subset in week long intervals but exist round-the-clock. This environment is inclusive, provides unconditional regard for the individual's creative ideas, and offers abundant learning opportunities.

In a TAB classroom, trauma affected children can regain self-confidence and repair their human spirit within the context of authentic creative learning experience.

The Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

For mental health professionals:
Creating Cultures of Trauma Informed Care