School Philosophy

Leonard Bernstein’s Artful Learning Model

Townline Elementary School is guided by an Artful Learning Model using inquiry and the arts as vehicles for learning across the curriculum. It provides an opportunity for learners to construct meaning principally through concept-driven inquiry. Through the universal concepts studied with artful learning, students extend their appreciation of the broader world while developing a respect and understanding for other cultures.

Leonard Bernstein’s Artful Learning Model was developed at Townline from 1992 to 1995. It was field-tested beginning in the 1995-96 school year and began full implementation the following year. This comprehensive school reform model and professional development prepared teachers to:

  • Utilize the arts and the artistic process to reinforce teaching and learning in all subjects.
  • Develop interdisciplinary units for students aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Understanding by Design (UbD).
  • Motivate all students to form a lifelong love of learning.

The Artful Learning Model underscores what good teachers know about teaching-learning springs from engaging experiences.  As a result, test scores in Artful Learning schools already prove the validity of this theory.

The model is concept-based, inquiry-based, and interdisciplinary. Teachers are trained to center their core curriculum instruction in the model’s four components:

  • Experience- Students are introduced to a “masterwork”  exposing them to rigorous and important ideas and classic works, thus creating an engaging experience.
  • Inquire- Students are interested when they are invited to inquire, ask questions and deepen their understanding.
  • Create- Students start to love learning when they actually create something. They enjoy active, hands-on involvement in producing something of value.
  • Reflect- Students learn more and can apply it when they reflect thoughtfully through deepening questions on what they understand.

Picasso painting

History of Artful Learning at Townline


  • Concept:  Connections
  • Significant Question: What types of connections do we make at home, school, the community and the world around us?
  • Masterwork:  Golden Gate Bridge

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  • Concept:  Relationships
  • Significant Questions:
  • Does who you are determine your relationships?
  • Will you follow the crowd or march to your “own beat”?
  • Masterwork:  Djembe Drums from West Africa



PIcasso at Daley Center



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