Monday, May 28, 2012

On Inspiration

It is the end of the year in our school district so my children came home with all that was left in their class. Oren who is in second grade came back with his writing notebook. It turns out he has been prolific and wrote among other creations a 13 chapter story. I give full credit to his fantastic language arts teacher Todd. What I found curious among his story is his take on Khoya. Khoya is a digital book on the iPad made somewhat famous through a TED presentation. The book itself delightfully integrates visual, musical and text elements while taking advantage of interactivity (see review and demo here). Oren has created his fan fiction- version of the story with borrowed vocabulary, storyline, and characters. Yet the story had a lot of him as well. I relearned what I already knew and we keep hearing from research. Reading with and to your students and children is crucial, it expands their vocabulary and world of ideas- it makes them creative and gives them a foundation from which to soar.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Art Education & the World

This post is a little preachy. I thought about it for awhile and decided to nevertheless publish...
After spending 5 days discussing the 2015 redrafting of the millennium goals with an emphasis on learning I started thinking. Here is an opportunity to have broader say in the way the leading countries impact the development of education in the developing world and we- we go to basics. The tone is similar to my previous post on new literacies and the narrow definition of what students all around the world need.
The discussions around the tables were about reading fluency, phonics and in some circles empowerment and local control. Before we lose our focus and make other nations repeat our tortured paths to education and follow in our footsteps through the power of our funding let's try to learn from the mobile wireless revolution in the developing world.
I've used this metaphor before and I think it still applies. For developing countries to get to where they want to be they do not need to necessarily follow every step that the the developed world went through. In fact, they can and probably should decide on their own priorities and leapfrog to that place.
This is where goals in arts can be really put into place. Encouraging the continuation and expansion of local art forms, atrisanship and culture should have equal footing with decoding and fluency. The integration of rich meaningful experiences will help enhance children's school experiences and prepare them for a full meaningful life. The revolution should be making school relevant and delightful with music, visual art, dance as well as writing and math. The whole world is striving for creative citizens- not for decoders who can perform simple tasks. Technology and creativity can help bridge those differences and increase the diversity in the world of ideas. So my call is simple: lets make room in the new goals for something more than basic education. We should not wait until the "basics" instead it should be part of the basics making education a full experience that can leapfrog whole generations into the 21st century.