Tag Archives: thoughts

How are you celebrating Arts in Education Week?

10 Sep

The school year has just barely started and it’s looking like another challenging year for schools. Despite that, or perhaps even to counter that, we already have cause to celebrate. On July 26, the US House of Representatives declared next week, September 12-18, Arts in Education Week.

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has acknowledged the House’s resolution with a proclamation of our own. Locally, other activities of note (some of these are for information only, not necessarily open to public):

  • Several area schools are jumping into the new school year with Young Audiences artists such as Ralph Nelson, Fools in Paradise and Ann Penfound.
  • The Right Brain Initiative‘s cool Show + Tell traveling exhibit will be on view at Portland Public School’s Blanchard Education Center through September 13, then on to the Portland Children’s Museum September 14 through October 3. The exhibit is in one of those PODS storage units (clever!) and includes displays of work and stories of their arts education programs from last year. Also check out their wonderful blog for more on Arts in Education Week!
  • Fall.ART.Live – Oregon Ballet Theater’s FREE daylong festival celebrating Portland’s vibrant performing arts scene! Lots of arts from OBT and other arts groups on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at  Director Park in downtown Portland, all day from 11:00am – 6:00pm
  • Writers in the Schools (WITS, a program of Literary Arts) will publish its 2009-2010 WITS Report in the Literary Arts September e-newsletter. This will be WITS’ first widely distributed public report, educate the larger community about their work with over 2500 Portland public high school students.
  • For pre-schoolers and their parents, the Oregon Symphony will be at Beaverton Library for their Symphony Storytimes series.

Many arts education advocates around the country have come up with other splendid thoughts for celebrating Arts in Education Week. A lot of this can be initiated, declared, promised or discussed starting next week, building towards March which is Arts Education/Youth Arts Month. Here are a few of my thoughts and favorites from ideas posted around the web:

  • The obvious one: do or start an art project! Perhaps something as big as a rock musical or a recycled art installation. Or a smaller project like playing theater games or creating a multi-media self portrait. Just go and get your hands dirty and your body moving!
  • Check out the American for the Arts’ Arts Education Blog Salon, taking place the whole week, and The Inspired Classroom, which has dedicated the next two months to arts integration (I’ll actually be a guest blogger) . Read, comment, share ideas. These blogs are always chock full of great dialogues and ideas.
  • Make a pledge this week to support arts education this year and testify for arts education in your community in March. Lots of info and resources about this on Americans for the Arts’ Arts in Education Week page.
  • Introduce yourself at a local school and volunteer to in an arts education classroom.
  • Talk to teachers, parents and students  about their experiences with arts education. Find out what inspires them, keeps them engaged and learning.
  • Some folks who participate in the #artsed chat on Twitter had a great suggestion for next week. Make a pledge to share the process of arts education projects, not just the product. Think about sharing student and teacher reflections, photos, drawings, drafts, videos, interviews, writings about the process of creating your work. Share that along with your final creation.
  • If you like to tweet (connect with us @YAoutreach) consider participating in the lively weekly #artsed chat. 4pm PST/7pm EST every Thursday. Just show up to twitter and dedicate all your postings for the hour to #artsed. @creativityassoc posts archives of the chats here.

I think I’ve rattled on enough. Here are more resources about Arts in Education Week. Go forth and create!

Sometimes the Good Old Days Actually Were

6 Sep

Prang Textbook“It is not necessary to review the history of art education in public schools, nor to present argument for the introduction or retention of drawing as an important study. These questions have been exhaustively treated, and need no fresh discussion. The school that does not offer to its community some kind of systematic art instruction is today an exception.”

The above is from the preface to Book IV of the Text Books of Art Education series put out by The Prang Educational Company. Its copyright is 1904.

This quote tends to make me babble incoherently as I struggle to come up with a response. I finally figured out that it’s because I’m looking for something smart and on-point to say when really what goes through my mind is, “Seriously?!? We’re still discussing this?”

Think about it: Despite mounting scientific evidence that arts education aids brain development, despite repeated articles about employers seeking creative employees with problem-solving skills, despite the anecdotes we can all share about the power of music, dance, theater and visual arts in the classroom, one hundred years after these text books were published we are still talking about whether the arts have a place in public education. More upsetting, it often seems as though the naysayers are getting louder.

At the base of it, I’m choosing the long view – educational theory tends to work in cycles. Eventually, there will be a critical mass of people who will be able to convince (or shout down) the naysayers, and we’ll circle back around to the idea that this topic “needs no fresh discussion”. I wouldn’t work where I do if I didn’t believe that. In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away, doing what I can to help make sure that kids have education in and through the arts. I hope you’ll do the same.

P.S. If anyone’s curious about what kinds of projects are listed in a 1904 textbook for arts education, let me know. I’d be happy to share. They’re actually pretty good.

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