Arts Propel Term Paper

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conceived by educational and cognition psychologist Howard Gardner

According the most current incarnation of the website devoted to the project and philosophy of Arts Propel, "Arts Propel is a five-year, collaborative effort involving Harvard Project Zero, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and the teachers and administrators of the Pittsburgh Public Schools." (Arts Propel, 2003, retrieved at ( It is a program designed to better integrate arts education into the often-confining educational framework of the American public school system. In other words, rather than teach art like reading or mathematics, in an Arts Propel classroom, "students approach the art form along three crisscrossing pathways that give Arts PROPEL its name."

These "crossings" include, but are not limited to production, where "students are inspired to learn the basic skills and principles of the art form by putting their ideas into music, words, or visual form," then perception, "where students study works of art to understand the kinds of choices artists make and to see connections between their own and others' work," and finally that of reflection where "students assess their work according to personal goals and standards of excellence in the field." (Arts Propel, 2003, retrieved at ( Thus, through the medium of the practice of the arts in a holistic fashion, students learn both more about the arts as well as how to be better artists.

Howard Gardner's earlier article on the philosophy behind the project, written in 1989, entitled "Zero-based arts education: An introduction to Arts PROPEL" was written for the journal Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research, 30 (2), 71-83, and thus was intended, to advocate to members of the educational profession as well as professional academics, this new methodology of arts education, an educational program that ultimately came to fruition in practice.


Gardener originally wrote his article to encourage the development of Arts Propel and programs like it, projects designed to free up arts education from traditional, discipline-based educational efforts.
(Zessoules, 1998) Gardner advocated brining other methods of assessing students rather than conventional, grade-based methodologies. He was inspired, not only by the personal experience of arts educators, but researchers in the educational psychology field whom have attempted to encapsulate the ways that students learn into a more flexible theoretical framework that is useful to teachers in classrooms across the nation. (Woolf, 1998)


Information on the background of the author, Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the John H. And Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor in Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During the past twenty years, he and colleagues at Project Zero have been working on the design of performance-based assessments, education for understanding, and the use of multiple intelligences to achieve more personalized curriculum, instruction, and assessment. ("A Short Biography," 2003) Currently, thanks to Gardner's zealous advocacy of the project and of his educational and theoretical principles, Arts Propel attempts to give students the vehicle and opportunity to express themselves through the arts in a conventional classroom, and also to better expand upon their artistic gifts.

Gardner is also the author of the "Good Works Project," of which it is written, "the ultimate goal of the project is to identify and to promote ways in which individuals at the cutting-edge of their professions can carry out work that is ethical and socially responsible." (Good Works, 2003) Good Works is devoted to innovations in education and re-conceptualizing the current range of professional paradigms in all fields of study and practice.

Purpose, agenda, viewpoint of the author

As an advocate of a reformed view of the "multiple intelligence theory of education," Gardener's early stages of advocacy, in this article's form, of the Arts Propel project has its roots in his belief that individuals are not simply intelligent or not intelligent, but that human intelligence exists in different areas,….....

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