Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005 5:46:03 AM by Kim
From a practial standpoint this means the loss of lots of elective classes. In cases where things like band and art and web and graphic design are still being offered either the classes are huge or the kids who want to take the classes are being turned away. If you can't quantify the results a course achieves through testing, then it's going to be tough to get it funded in the current climate.
There are far-reaching implications to the loss of these classes, and I hope folks in the industry will focus on what's going on in education here in the US. If those "soft" courses--ones where their results can't be easily quantified--are not kept in the mix of courses we offer kids, we lose an important element of their total education.
Music is a great example of the connection between an elective class and high-tech skills. Do a little poll where you work. How many of your programmers are also musicians? How many of them had their first chance to play an instrument in a public school? I think you'll find the numbers to be significant. I know here at Community MX the programmers among us almost to a man and woman play some sort of musical instrument. There is an incredibly strong connection in the part of the brain that allows a person to understand how to play a complicated set of chords and also do multiple joins in several relational databases. Or appreciate the elegance of good scripting.
Developing that part of the brain starts early, and it needs to be supported while young. Public schools have traditionally done the most to support that kind of learning and development, but with the current emphasis on testing over teaching, we're facing huge losses of teachers and classes in the arts. Fewer kids will be helped to discover their potential, and less of them will be prepared for the type of work that they might be asked to do.
It will take a little higher-order thinking on the part of people in the industry, government, and education if we're to stop this trend before more damage is done. There has to be a better mixture of accountability and teaching and higher-order learning in our schools if the US is to maintain a competitive workforce. Yes, keeping arts in education is that important.
Category tags: Education
Posted Sunday, January 23, 2005 8:35:42 AM by Sheri German
I followed my usual morning routine of coffee and The Washington Post, and an intriguing piece on the Op Ed page caught my eye: "The Art of Education Success" by Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond. The essay is about how the arts are being integrated into academic lessons in the classrooms of low-income schools in the Chicago area. Rather than expose these children to yet more testing and traditional rote learning, this experimental program is using the arts in conjunction with core subjects such as reading and social studies. The authors give one example of how fourth graders draw portraits of each other in their unit on descriptive writing. Since the new economy will demand such skills as creativity, adaptability, and teamwork, this innovative, new approach promises to prepare children for success in the future workplace.
Given that my college degrees are in music, I have long despaired over the subsidiary role the arts have been given in public education, and indeed, in American culture. I have despaired over whether we are passing on our rich cultural heritage to our young people. And when I despair over the state of our world, I know that the arts are what remind of us of our humanity, give us hope, and present us with a snapshot of our lives. The Chicago program renews optimism on so many levels.
In my classes for education majors at Trinity University, I realize yet again that the computer is a fantastic device for artistic expression. My graduate students in the condensed winter mini-session worked hard on WebQuests for elementary school children. WebQuests use the Internet not just for mere fact-finding, but to encourage active participation, self-expression, and creativity. If you read my three part series on WebQuests, you may remember that music history was brought alive by allowing children to become VJ hosts in an MTV program from another century. The research links in the web page include audio and video files from the growing repository that resides on the Web.
It has become easy to produce multimedia on the computer because of all the applications--particularly those of Macromedia--that have evolved to make it visual and intuitive. I believe that the father of modern multimedia presentation was Sergei Diaghilev. A Russian visionary, he brought together the greatest artists, composers and choreographers in full theatrical productions during the first three decades of the twentieth century.
Take, for instance, the production called "The Parade." The sets were created by Picasso, the choreography by Massine, and the music by the French impressionist Satie. Or how about "The Prodigal Son" with choreography by Balanchine, music by Prokofiev, and costumes and sets by Georges Rouault? What astounding collaborations! Now fast forward to a "Lewis and Clark" history DVD Scotty German, 7th grader, produced last year. A twelve-year old child brought together music, art, and video into a history lesson, and made it come alive.
Community MX is a powerful tool for education. Not only do we teach you how to use tools, but we create tools that make it easier for you to use the computer to express yourselves and the world around you. Paul Newman's Flash Video Player Flash and Dreamweaver extensions are prime examples of tools that release you from technical problems so that you make artistic expression and education the primary focus. Don't go away. There's more to come...
Category tags: Education