Sunday, November 23, 2008

Upcoming Webinar on Quality Arts Education

Americans for the Arts is hosting The Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It. Details:
December 17, 2008 at 2:00 PM EST, 1:00 PM CST, 12:00 PM MST, 11:00 AM PST
(90 minutes)
Many children in the United States have little or no opportunity for formal arts instruction so access to arts learning experiences remains a critical national challenge. Additionally, the quality of arts learning opportunities that are available to young people is a serious concern. Understanding this second challenge – the challenge of creating and sustaining high quality formal arts learning experiences for K-12 youth, inside and outside of school – is the focus of a recent research initiative, The Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It, commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and conducted by Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The study focuses on the character of excellence itself and asks three core questions: (1) How do arts educators in the United States—including leading practitioners, theorists, and administrators-- conceive of and define high quality arts learning and teaching? (2) What markers of excellence do educators and administrators look for in the actual activities of art learning and teaching as they unfold in the classroom? And (3) How does a program’s foundational decisions, as well as its ongoing day-to-day decisions, impact the pursuit and achievement of quality? In this webinar, we will share the findings of this study and introduce some of the tools developed by the research team for use by practitioners committed to examining and improving the quality of the arts learning experiences they provide for young people.

Presenter: Steve Seidel, Director, Harvard Project Zero and Director, Arts in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education 
P.S. Speaking of Project Zero, this is cute...

Not Your Typical Substitute Teachers: Super Subs Bring the Arts To Schools

Interesting group in California called Super Subs infuses the arts during day-long programs in schools.  Smart model if the teaching artists are actual licensed substitutes and can be on their own with students in a classroom--this wasn't clear to me.
If this doesn't sound like a typical class, that's because it isn't. These aren't your typical teachers; they are substitutes. And they aren't your typical substitute teachers, either -- they're Super Subs.
The brainchild of Barboza, a retired teacher, the Super Subs program is a way to bring arts and music to underserved students. Barboza recruited a group of friends -- some of whom once played together in a semiprofessional band -- to be the subs. At first, the idea was to give back to schools in the community where they all grew up. But after experiencing success at their local schools, they decided to take their show on the road.
Here's how it works: Barboza and the twenty other musicians, artists, writers, and designers he's recruited take over classes for the day. They teach their own brand of music, art, writing, journalism, and self-esteem. The visits don't cost schools a dime. The Personal News Network, a social-media Web site run by one of the Super Subs, picks up the tab, and most of the Super Subs volunteer their time. 
A teacher says:
"Our kids don't necessarily get experiences like this. You know how when you think back to high school, there were a few days when something happened that you really remember as being great? I want this to be one of those days for these kids."
But why can't they have this every day? Wouldn't it be great if all (or at least most) learning could create great, memorable, transformative experiences?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Linda Darling-Hammond to Spearhead Obama's Ed Policy Working Group

Darling-Hammond is a real (some might say touchy-feely) educator who cares about transformative teaching and learning and social justice. An exciting pick.

Linda Darling-Hammond is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network. Her research, teaching, and policy work focus on issues of school reform, teaching quality and educational equity. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the executive board of the National Academy of Education. She has been a leader in the standards movement, chairing both the New York State Curriculum and Assessment Council as it adopted new standards and assessments for students and the Interstate New Teachers Support and Assessment Council (INTASC) as it developed new standards for teachers. From 1994-2001, she served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, a blue-ribbon panel whose 1996 report, What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future, was named in 2006 as one of the most influential affecting U.S. education, and Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation's ten most influential people affecting educational policy. She received her BA from Yale University, magna cum laude, in 1973 and her Doctorate in Urban Education from Temple University in 1978. She began her career as a public school teacher.
More info:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Higher Education Today

Paulo Freire says, “The educated individual is the adapted person, because she or he is better “fit” for the world” (Pedagogy of the Oppressed). It can be argued that universities have largely become mechanisms that mold students to conform and adapt to the normative structures of society, rather than question the status quo. How often do we see a "problem-posing" environment in the higher education lecture-based or even seminar classroom?

Here's an interesting video created by students at Kansas State University: "A Vision of Students Today." You can find more information on the ethnographic project here.

One student in the video says her bubble tests won't help her deal with or prepare her the problems of the world--war, ethinic conflict, hunger....

Another student says, "I did not create the problems. But they are my problems." Higher education should promote pedagogies that encourage real dialogue in which students explore and understand their place in the world as both oppressors and oppressed, along with their potential to create and re-create new realities. Freire calls this "Conscientizacao," threatening the place of the status quo and questioning the prevailing picture. Going beyond the statement, “This is how life is,” and understanding one’s place within social mechanisms. Individuals and groups have the power to change the narratives of reality.

The college classroom has the potentional to be what Freire terms "co-intentional," but often isn't.
Teachers and students (leadership and people), content on reality, are both Subject, not only in the task of unveiling that reality, and thereby coming to know it critically, but in the task of re-creating that knowledge. As they attain this knowledge of reality through common reflection and action, they discover themselves as its permanent re-creators. (Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 2007)
Another of my favorite essays that's only somewhat related: William Deresiewicz's The Disadvantages of an Elite Education."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Upcoming Event: Reach All - Teach All

An event worth attending. The moderator is a colleague of mine in NYU's Catherine B. Reynolds Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship.
Reach All - Teach All
Social Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century Panel Discussion
Part of the Target First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum

Saturday, December 6, 2008, 8 p.m.
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art Forum, 4th Floor
Free tickets available at the Visitor Center at 7 p.m.

Moderator: Martha Diaz - Founder, Hip-Hop Association and Catherine B. Reynolds Fellow

Toni Blackman – Founder, Lyrical Embassy
Alice Mizrahi – Co-Founder, Younity Collective
Toofly – Co-Founder, Younity Collective

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Community Program Bridges Differences

Walking the Walk, an interfaith group in Philadelphia, brings students of various faiths together to take part in community service programs, reflect on their work, and also discuss their faiths, commonalities, and differences. 
they can meet with other teenagers wearing hijabs or yarmulkes, who are Muslim, Jewish or Christian, and talk — or text — about pizza, goofing off, television and the Jonas Brothers. Asked what was the most important lesson he had learned from getting to know young people of other faiths, Ibrahim, son of the imam, said without hesitation, “I learned they’re just like me.”
Find more info about the project here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Teaching about Privilege

Education for Liberation hosts its online forum, 'talkin bout on teaching privilege: Tuesday, November 18 to Wednesday, November 19.
talkin `bout….teaching truth to power, will focus on how educators can teach about injustice and inequality to a group with an identity of privilege (for example, teaching about racism to white people, teaching about sexism to men, teaching about heterosexism to straight people etc.). Most Americans have at least one identity of power—male, middle-class, straight, American citizen, white, Christian etc. How do we confront the issue of privilege with students? What are the challenges and benefits of this work? Is it possible to teach someone out of their power?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama and the Arts

Obama supports the arts. 
Obama began forming his culture plank in the spring of 2007, long before winning the Democratic nomination. He brought together a committee of artists and arts professionals, headed by Hollywood writer, director and producer George Stevens Jr. and Broadway producer Margo Lion.

The committee's members include novelist Michael Chabon, Broadway director Hal Prince, musicians Eugenia and Pinchas Zukerman, Museum of Modern Art president emerita Agnes Gund, as well as Lynch, of Americans for the Arts.
Here's the part I especially love:
The committee developed a program that advocates: the creation of an "Artists Corp'' of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and communities; the expansion of public- private partnerships to increase cultural-education programs; increased funding for the NEA; a commitment to ``cultural diplomacy''; attracting foreign talent in the arts; and providing health care to artists.
I'd been thinking about the need for an artist corp to address the lack of arts opportunities for particularly low-income students, but I guess my idea is a little too late...