Sep 29, 2015 by

jeffrey pflaumJeffrey Pflaum –

You hear a lot about the arts today, its obvious importance in ED, and that is so true. You also have phenomenal artists, poets, writers, and musicians bringing their creativity, innovation, and inspiration into schools across the U.S., proving the value of arts over and over again. I know about arts education after teaching inner city kids to find their creative selves since the 60s until 2002 when I retired from the NYCDOE. And let’s not forget many amazing creative educators who work in classrooms everyday of the week and bring their talents to students 180 days a year.

During my dinosaur teaching days we worked on a “dumb board” as opposed to the current smart board. I know my board can’t compete with the latter’s technology, but I know that a lot of “smart things” were written and modeled on mine—such as the prerequisite fundamental skills for learning and learning how to learn—that helped kids turn inward to find themselves, their talents and creativity, and in the process, expand their multiple intelligences. If anything, my dumb board became a “magic board” and changed children’s lives forever, including my own.

THE INNER CITIES POETRY ARTS PROJECT began with “Contemplation Music Writing” where kids—from grades 2 to 6—listened to music, contemplated inner experiences, and then wrote about and discussed whatever happened internally with classmates and teacher. The main objective was to get them into the present moment, focused, mindful, empathetic, energized, and motivated. Students developed awareness of themselves, others, and the world by contemplating and writing two to three times weekly throughout the school year. Music listening changed their lives in and out of school. I’m still in touch with former students—now adults 40 and 50 years old—on Facebook and at community events. This shows how the communication lines between students and teacher were opened up many years ago and how the vibes remain current in 2015 through an awareness project that today is called mindfulness.

The curriculum allowed kids to realize their feelings, thoughts, and experiences while freeing them to release hidden narratives in their minds and imaginations in the form of contemplation music writing (prose) and in poetry writing. It was a natural sequence from contemplation to poetry because students had practiced the skills of creative- and critical thinking, visualization, reflection, focusing, contemplation, recall, feeling, and experiencing before taking on the likes of Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and Gary Soto.

In this post you will find published student poetry written about their responses to the Persian Gulf War. The poems are in English and Spanish on pages 70 to 73 of TRIADAE Magazine (June 2015 issue). The kids translated all the poems into Spanish.

There is also my photograph of the TWIN TOWERS as seen and shot through the tower of the Brooklyn Bridge ironically taken for a school event celebrating the bridge’s centennial anniversary.

And there’s more to this strange turn of events: the poems, “I Hear It” by Glennie Llano and “War Windows” by Juan Serrano, in my opinion, forecast the Twin Towers tragedy.

Please check out the upcoming link where you’ll find TRIADAE Magazine (June 2015
issue, pp. 70 to 73) at: Scroll down to Triada Magazine (June 24, 2015) and then click on the link at the bottom. Here you will find a description of my INNER CITIES POETRY ARTS PROJECT along with the students’ Persian Gulf War poetry and the photo of the Twin Towers framed by the Brooklyn Bridge.

See my EDUCATION NEWS articles about “music listening,” “music writing,” meditation, motivation, and how parents can use music to change their kids’ lives:

“Music Listening Changes Children’s Lives” at:

“How Parents Can Use Music To Change Their Kids’ Lives” at:


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