Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Issue of Rethinking Schools

The winter issue of Rethinking Schools is now available. Interesting articles include: commentary on American Girls money making machine, paying for student performance, and Tom Farley's inside look at the testing industry: "A Test Scorer's Lament." Here's an excerpt:
In the hot sun, at a table beside a hotel pool, two men and a woman drink icy cocktails to celebrate the successful completion of a four-week scoring project. The hotel manager brings a phone to their table. "Call for you," he says to the woman, whose face blanches when the home office tells her that another dozen tests have been found.

"I know," the woman says, "someone has to score them. OK, read them to me over the phone." The woman turns the phone's speaker on, and she and the men listen to student responses read by a squeaky-voiced secretary several thousand miles away. One of the men waves to the bartender to bring another round, and with drinks but not rubrics in their hands the two men and one woman score each student response via the telephone. When the voice on the phone goes silent after reading each response, the woman looks at the number of fingers the men hold in the air.

"Three," the woman says into the phone. "That's a three."

This goes on for an hour and two rounds of drinks.

A project manager for a test-scoring company addresses the supervisors hired to manage the scoring of a project. The project is not producing the results expected, to the dismay of the test-scoring company and its client, a state department of education. The project manager has been trying to calm the concerned employees, but she's losing patience. She's obviously had enough.

"I don't care if the scores are right," the project manager snarls. "They want lower scores, and we'll give them lower scores."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

7th Grade Inaugural Thoughts

Seventh grade students at Harlem Success Academy about Inauguration Day via The Huffington Post. Alexis Sumpter said:
Standing there. Words of wisdom coming out his mouth. I can't express in words how happy I am. I am staring at the first African American president. My eyes are in a blur and want to release what they have been holding back. I love when he recited the words, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America." It made me reflect because I am still in the process of trying to pick myself back up. I felt a force of energy rush out of my body. I felt as if I could be anything and anyone. I was feeding upon every word he said because it was true. I can heal without focusing on the negative, but by focusing on the positive.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Democracy and Education

"What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy." -John Dewey

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Building an Arts Activism Curriculum

I've been working for the past several months to build a core curriculum for youth about the concept of arts activism. It's been trickier than I thought. 

The first question: What is arts activism? The simplest way I can begin to define it is the communication/expression of a message through an artistic medium to create or inspire change. How can we engage students in this concept--I am hesitant to simply provide a definition. Shouldn't this come from the participants themselves? If so, how?

Defining or introducing artistic mediums is even more difficult. In one lesson, is it possible to both introduce the concept of theatre/drama and also frame it from an arts activism perspective (doing the same for dance and music as well?)

What is Theatre? 
Augusto Boal defines theatre as "the art of looking at ourselves." But this isn't how theatre or drama is typically perceived or defined. Drama is rooted in the Greek "to do" or "to act." Drama utilizes body and voice to express. Theatre (performative--or not) can also focus on the realm of storytelling or voice. Whose stories are told? Whose are left out? It should also be important to stress that drama can be performative or non-performative (Perhaps this is important and true for all of the arts?)

Dance and music are even more difficult (because I focus on Educational Theatre).

What is Dance?
Dance is words, poetry, and emotion in action. It is communication, imitation, or expression through physical movement, using space and time.

What is Music?
Jean-Jacques Nattiez defines music as "sound through time."

I have also been gathering examples to introduce arts activism via the mediums of theatre/drama, music, and dance.

Currently, focusing on:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Call for Submissions: Rethinking Social Justice in Education

The A.R.E. (Association of Raza Educators) 3rd Annual Conference is accepting proposals. The theme is "Rethinking Social Justice in Education: Ser Pueblo, Hacer Pueblo, y Estar Con El Pueblo"

February 28, 2009
Santee Education Complex
1921 Maple Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90011
The theme of the 3rd Annual A.R.E. conference, "Rethinking Social Justice: *Ser Pueblo, Hacer Pueblo, y Estar con el Pueblo*," engages with the problematic of how social justice movements can build sustainable communities of resistance. What is the role of educators and students in building community and organization with the people, *el pueblo*? How can educators build relations of solidarity with *el pueblo* within/against the colonial State?
Speakers will include:
  • Omali Yeshitela, Chairman, African People's Socialist Party
  • Donaldo Macedo, Professor, University of Massachusetts
  • Sakeenah Shabazz, President, African Revolution Student Organization