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