Saturday, May 21, 2011

What if we combined arts, technology and entrepeneurship?

In a series of conversation about the arts in the last few years I have heard repeatedly the argument that the arts help sustain communities from an economic standpoint.  To be honest I have paid little attention to it. Not because I think they are wrong but instead because my main concern is not the business of the arts, it is maintaining the place of the arts in education.

In the last few weeks one of our graduate students Laurie has been conducting interviews and observations with teachers who integrate technology in their instruction. Quite a few of the teachers were art teachers that integrate technology into much of their work, some were technology teachers using art (visual, video and music).

At the same time schools are being "squeezed" and respond by limiting art and technology. What would happen if we combined arts, technology, and entrepreneurship in meaningful ways? What might that look like at the school and community level? I think there is great potential here that would help students see connection become active learners and strengthen communities. There is one risk- doing this might make school learning relevant and meaningful, not much irony actually, if some areas are highly motivating other areas that are less immediately relevant (say physics) may actually decline even further. Much to think about would love some comments.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Budget Cuts and the Arts

This time I would like to talk about the recent budget cuts at UNL. While this may be not be directly about arts integration I still believe it has direct impact on my main topic. In the recent round of budget cuts a decision was made to cut K-12 arts education. What does it mean? It means that we will cease to prepare arts educators at the undergraduate level within the next few years.

I am sorry to see any program go, and even sorrier to see my good colleague Dr. Jean Detlefsen go, but in times of budget difficulty choices have to be made. The pattern, however, is familiar to K-12 environments- the arts goes out early with PE and other "nice but not necessary" subjects. I argue here as I did before the Academic Planning Committee, that the loss will impact our program beyond that of arts education. The disappearance of the program will lead to fewer graduate students in arts education decreasing our ability to teach art methods to all elementary teachers. In addition, this group of future arts educators interacted directly with future elementary teachers in our arts teaching methods course. But all of that will cease in less than two years.

So what now? As I am more prone to action than dwelling on things I cannot change I started working with colleagues on a new M.Ed. program that will focus on 21st century learning- marrying my care for elementary education and my interests in creativity arts integration and educational technology and media.

In some ways I am very excited about this new idea whose time has come...
Hopefully this idea can support the ongoing creation of diverse art teachers that would be able to combine art media and technology for the benefit of all students.