Definition Rewrite—Shazammm

Children of the Stage

As someone who grew up performing in school plays, musicals, and choir concerts, it is impossible for me to imagine learning in an educational setting where the performing arts is absent. My high school’s drama club was the only thing that made me want to wake up in the morning and attend class, because it was the place where I could express myself the way I knew best: through acting, singing, and dancing. Calculus or gym class most certainly did not inspire me to come out of my shell, and I can say the same for many of my musically-inclined friends. The performing arts is my life. If my high school did not have a drama department, I would have lacked the creative outlet I depended on most to socially and academically thrive. In short, my mental health would have suffered immensely.

In the article “A symphony within: Frequent participation in performing arts predicts higher positive mental health in young adults,” Eryn Block, Mitchell Wong, Sheryl Kataoka, and Frederick Zimmerman writes, “During young adulthood, childhood passions often give way to higher education and career goals; yet these childhood passions, such as art, may be important to prioritize for mental health… Creative activities have been used for managing depression, anxiety, stress, and mental distress related to chronic illness and trauma, and for promoting positive emotions, social connection, and self-efficacy for people with mental illness” {Block, Wong, Kataoka, Zimmerman, 2022}. Of course, not all young people utilize the arts for psychological purposes. However, for those who do, it is safe to say that taking away artistic opportunities would damage their mental health. 

Perhaps one of the greatest benefactors to the performing arts in education is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, or NCLB. This is a bill that aims to improve the academic success of children in primary and secondary schools through standardized testing. It additionally requires teachers to meet “higher standards for certification” and accommodates subordinated youth by raising their test scores {Duignan, Nolen, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Gaur,  Lotha, 2008}. In simple terms, it holds schools accountable for the success of their students and assures the public that Congress will do everything they can to provide the best education possible for American children. 

How does this act positively impact the performing arts in schools? It provides students with the resources they need to thrive academically, including theater opportunities. In the article No Subject Left Behind, the authors place a huge emphasis on “scientifically based research” as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, which incorporates three points: “Defining what constitutes acceptable “scientifically based” research for the purposes of administering our educational system,” “Encouraging and instituting research in arts education activities and programs that meets the procedural definition of acceptable research,” and “Working to ensure that, as a practical matter, important information regarding the real-world growth and development of American children is not excluded from the decision-making process because it has not been collected or formulated in terms of “scientifically based research.” The second point is extremely important to note because it supports the exploration of arts education as a whole, promoting theater departments within educational settings and highlighting the significance of the arts as academic subjects. 


Duignan, Brian, Jeanette, N.L., The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. {2008, September}. No Child Left Behind. Britannica.

Block, E.P., Wong, M.D., Kataoka, S.H., Zimmerman, F.J. {2022 January}. A symphony within: Frequent participation in performing arts predicts higher positive mental health in young adults. Elsevier.

Arts Education Partnership, American Arts Alliance, American Association of Museums, American Symphony Orchestra League, Americans for the Arts, Association of Art Museum Directors, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance/USA, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/ Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, MENC: The National Association for Music Education, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, OPERA America, Theatre Communications Group, VSA arts. {29 August 2005}. No Subject Left Behind. Americans For The Arts.

About Shazammm

I like cake.
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3 Responses to Definition Rewrite—Shazammm

  1. Shazammm says:

    I just put this assignment in the feedback please category. I know the word length is a little short. I was a little unsure about what else I should add or talk about in this piece. In your opinion, what else should I write about? What other things should I define? Did I start off this paper alright, or am I missing the mark? Thank you and have a good rest of your break.


    • davidbdale says:

      Try Defining “The Left-Behind Child,” Shazammm.

      Despite your claim that the “No Child Left Behind” act has benefitted students, the authors of “No Subject Left Behind” would certainly disagree. The use of standardized test scores as the sole measure of student success has NOT resulted in a broad expansion of programs to nurture every aspect of student instruction. Instead, it has compelled teachers to “teach to the standardized test” at the expense of almost everything else.

      If you read your last paragraph in this light, you’ll see that the authors of “No Subject Left Behind” are resisting attempts to ELIMINATE arts instruction. They believe “non-academic” or “non-basic-skills” elements of the curriculum are being eliminated because they haven’t been scientifically proven to contribute to those blessed test scores.

      Regardless of whether either side has a point here, YOU can concentrate on what you know to be true: that there is such a thing as the “Left-Behind Child” that isn’t measured by standardized test scores. The child for whom school has no meaning, provides no inspiration, offers no hope is the child whose school ignores abilities and interests that aren’t measured by multiple-choice answers to tests. The “Left-Behind Child” is the child you would have been if your school had not recognized the value of offering you a chance to develop your skills and interests.

      As a side benefit, it’s likely you did perform better on tests BECAUSE your school expressed interest in your “untestable” academic interests.

      As far as I know, nobody has yet provided a Definition of the sort of student who is UTTERLY DISMISSED by the “No Child Left Behind” program’s insistence on test scores as the only measure of achievement. You could provide that valuable service right here, in 1000 words.



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