Children come to school as integrated people with thoughts and feelings, words and pictures, ideas and fantasies. They are intensely curious about the world. They are scientists, artists, musicians, historians, dancers and runners, tellers of stories, and mathematicians. The challenge we face as teachers is to use the wealth they bring us. They come with a two-sided mind. We must encourage them to use it, to develop both types of thinking so that they have access to the fullest possible range of mental abilities.
Linda Williams, Teaching for the Two Sided Mind
In recent years, Western scholars and researchers have been intensifying the study of the use of art in education, especially as regards children from disadvantaged or migratory backgrounds or with learning difficulties. Thousands of projects of different dimensions, micro and macro, have been designed all over Europe to foster innovative pedagogies involving all types of arts in primary schools. Some of them have been very "empirical", while others have been supported by assessment and evaluation from different disciplinary perspectives: social sciences, pedagogy, psychology, anthropology, cultural studies and intercultural dialogue among them.
The META project ‘ Minorities Education through Art’ is based on the idea that arts improve students' motivation, concentration, confidence, teamwork, cognitive ability, critical thinking, verbal skills, among other key competences. In other words, the use of arts in the class is closely related to students’ academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, equitable opportunities of inclusion not only in the classroom but in Society as a whole.
META therefore aims at providing an in-depth knowledge of effective methodologies and tools that use different art forms to reduce disparities in learning effecting pre-primary and primary students from minorities groups including Roma and developing an innovative and collaborative teaching and learning methodology for European teachers that will contribute to social cohesion, European citizenship social economic inclusion and economic growth.
Introducing music, dance, singing and the visual arts in the classroom seeks to involve children into concrete, innovative and entertaining educational paths so as to facilitate their integration into the school world which may otherwise present insurmountable obstacles.
An inclusive Europe of cultures and people cannot afford that still too many children from disadvantaged backgorunds leave school very early, even without completing minimal educational curses. As education experts and activitists for change, we cannot accept that children with migrant background or belonging to minorities groups are disproportionally overrepresented amongst early school leavers and belong to the lowest performing percentiles because they have a number of critical, and specific, education needs that are not currently met through mainstream education policy.
Nevertheless, the risk of drop out or alienation in the classroom does not concern only children from minorities groups or from migrant background: such innovative pedagogies have been proven to be very effective for all children and can also contribute to awareness-raising for teachers and foster involvement of all parents.
In a Europe of turmoil and fear, where the main victim of terror is faith and solidarity among citizens, migrant education appears to be the most important issue facing European education over the next decades.