"And the beat goes on........................"
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Follow Up Questions to the First Week Blog Posts :
Here are our reactions and thoughts about some of what this week's blog participants said. We will include their responses to these questions as and when received, and we encourage any of the readers who have thoughts to enter their own comments at the end of this blog).
1. More than one responder alludes to the positive situation in what could be called the “have” schools / districts – private and to a lesser extent, public – wherein the situation is pretty good, but that only raises the equity issue for that huge portion of schools wherein the situation is not as good, and is very likely bad. No doubt that disparity is the result of a variety of causes, chief among them lack of funds. How do we deal with that? – because that continued inequity is going to result in a ‘have’ and ‘have not’ arts education world (and education outcomes) for generations to come. If we are striving for, as Nick says, “properly funded, well-run schools” for every child, where do the public will, the policy and the funds come from to make that happen? That is one of our principal challenges: if we cannot address the inequity challenge, then much of the whole edifice will come crumbling down - hard.
Nick Rabkin: We actually have no reliable data about what kind of arts education classroom teachers had in American schools historically, but I’m skeptical that there was ever a ‘golden age’. The best available data shows that just 25% of 18-year olds had any arts education in 1930. That figure slowly climbed up to about 65% by 1980 or so. It has declined since and is now below 50% again, about the level it was at in the mid-1960s, and not nearly as low as it was in 1930. The popular explosion of the arts in the 1960s was a cultural phenomenon, associated with all sorts of other cultural phenomena of the time. It was certainly not the result of an appetite for the arts that was cultivated in schools! I had a music appreciation class in junior high school, in which I learned about the classical composers, but my lifelong interest in music was not shaped deeply by that class. Listening to the radio had much more to do with it. Just because classroom teachers have had little in the way of formal arts education does not mean that they have limited interest or ideas about the arts. Just like their students, they come to schools with lots of ideas and lots of questions about the arts that are waiting to be explored with a little help from the outside.
Eric Engdahl: The issue of the “under arts educated” teacher is not a simple one to resolve. Given the complexity of educating students in the diverse eco-system of educational environments there are have to be multiple solutions that work in their own context. “Under arts educated teachers” are also only part of a larger problem that includes “under math educated teachers,” “under science educated teachers,” etc. situated in an educational system does not work well or equitably.
Here are a few thoughts about how to deal with “under arts educated” teachers now:
Eric Engdahl: I think that a convening of teacher education programs would be useful, but it needs to include a cross section of all teacher training programs, including the so-called “for profit” institutions and alternative credentialing programs run by charter schools and districts. It also needs to include the educational leadership programs. In California, a beginning location for that meeting could be among the CSUs (which educates the majority of California teachers) or at the organization of teacher training programs, the California Council on Teacher Education which already has an Arts Education Special Interest Group.
That convening needs to be part of a series of meetings in which regional arts education providers meet to look at how they can work together in a time of diminished resources. Some of us in the arts education community are looking to the idea of collective impact, eloquently described in an article by John Kania and Mark Kramer in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. http://www.ssireview.org/pdf/2011_WI_Feature_Kania.pdf
Think Tank attendees participated in several sessions throughout the day to:
• Identify and analyze trends in higher education
• Build consensus on the role of higher education in quality, access and equity in arts education
In one session, Sandra B. Chong, Director of Arts Education, Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication, California State University at Northridge, led a panel discussion with generalist classroom teachers called the “Benefits of Arts Education in the Elementary Classroom,” which focused on the inadequacy of training in arts education in pre-service programs, the use of the arts in the classroom setting and the impact teaching through the arts has on their teaching practice and student learning outcomes.
Although panelists felt that ongoing professional development in the arts is necessary, incorporating arts training into teacher preparation programs would be most beneficial. All panelists felt that strong training in the arts in pre-service programs for teachers would improve teachers’ capacity to teach in a classroom setting and equip teachers with a tool that would support them in improving student learning across all subjects.
After reviewing documentation from the all of the day’s sessions, participants identified the following key priorities:
1. Develop a collective vision of arts education in teacher preparation programs
2. Deliver strong teacher preparation in the arts in pre-service teacher training programs
3. Model best practices throughout teacher training programs
4. Develop and empower advocates in institutions of higher education
5. Establish a culture that values the arts in teacher preparation programs
6. Conduct research and distribute data among stakeholders
These key priorities establish the foundation for the creation of a Higher Education Initiative, especially for California.
Next week the Arts Education Blog Forum continues - Category: Fieldbuilding