A prospective graduate student came by a few weeks ago. His goal as he stated it is to minimize damage to rural students by providing quality arts instruction online or through distance education in other means. I worry.
I told him that I worried, arts education is a field that requires demonstratin, proximity and more than anything else mentoring. This kind of mentoring is extremely hard to reproduce at a distance. I think that the ability to look at the dancers moves from multiple perspectives, the painters brush strokes or the guitarist hands are crucial elements that cannot be done at a distance. I teach distance courses and Ithink some of
them are great- but not in arts education or arts integration.
My second concern was that by creating online replacements we urge districts that have stuck by their specialists and invested in them to stop. If the quality is there, they might say, why not save a bundle. So what can be done instead?
Here are some ideas:
1. Train classroom teachers in arts integration and enhance their understanding through studio experiences with local artists and museum resources.
2. If online lessons are created integrate them with rich artist in residence programs- mandated not just as an option. The experieneces must be bundled and truly integrated.
3. Educate school boards and administrators about the importance of the arts.
Do not let rural schools do without arts....