A word from an art educator to Marion County
My action plan consists of a letter to the editor of the Ocala Star Banner and a power point I will present to the School Board of Marion County. I included some background information as to why I chose this path.
Arts in Marion County Schools recently suffered a hit in staffing and the subsequent over extension for educators as a result. At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, we lost all of our first year teachers throughout all the subject areas. We also lost a lot of paraprofessionals. For years now, our school board has consistently resorted to overcrowding classrooms in core classes and electives despite state limitations, paying fines, rather than paying salaries for new teachers. Marion County is actually the leading violator statewide in this area of contention.
This year they reassigned art and music teachers due to the shortages in staff that they created. The county voters would not approve a millage tax to help raise money beneficial to elective classes. This of course only compounds the problem. Some art teachers were moved from elementary to middle school, some from middle to high. Most teachers remaining at the elementary level are now servicing more than one location. Some carry the responsibility of music and art, working from carts or rooms at both schools. Those campuses are not always close in proximity.
My letter to the editor subtly addresses these issues as we draw near to the close of this school year. There is only about two and a half months left. I hope to raise awareness in the community in light that our school board has recently promised it plans on hiring more teachers. However, this may be indicative of another surprise like with last year’s events. There was a report in the paper just prior to the lay offs last year that indicated art and music teachers would be protected amidst cuts. They were generally, however some of the art teachers also happened to be first year, thusly, they lost their jobs regardless and hence we now have shortages in staffing.
This action plan describes some of the problem, raises awareness and presents a unique and growing validation for art education in schools. It is a call for accountability on the part of our board and community to take a closer look at the visual arts specifically. The plan includes real world examples where science, art and technology are integrating into the arts at a rapid rate. It also points towards the validation of art education in schools to accommodate the future demands on career and profession for students across disciplines.
My action plan is also two or three fold at this point. I would also like to present some of these ideas in validating the arts through practical application. In integrating with technology and science, art may become more valuable in the eyes of others. This idea is not shrouded in clever disguises, the University of Florida, M.I.T. and museums are developing centers for learning that integrate art, emerging technologies and scientific principles and explorations. My hope is to make an impression so that when time comes to weigh in on issues of maintaining the arts in Marion County Schools, those involved will make their decisions with insight and conviction.
I also would like to present my findings to other art educators and possibly write this in a more cohesive and comprehensive fashion to a journal or magazine. I have yet to research careers, collaboration case studies and other examples that would further validate art education through science and technology practices.
One suggestion I will give to my school board will be to set up a meeting time and place between art teachers periodically and board members to share ideas, innovations, foster ongoing communication, changes in the field and concerns. Board members can stay in the loop and be more mindful on decisions and developments in the area of art education.
My action plan, letter to the editor and power point presentation emphasize artists and their work. These featured artist focus on the technical, scientific and engineering integration of art. It is in no way exhaustive and quite the contrary only demonstrates the early stages of research. However as we dip our toes in the proverbial pool of knowledge, we can see the water is deepening quickly. Pluralism and hacking are reshaping culture in new ways that integrates technical understanding with creative expression. Thanks to agencies like TED Talks, PBS programing and learning centers that embrace new developments in artistic expression, we are seeing a collaboration of ideas that place the role of the artist and art educator in areas not akin to general art study.
The ongoing challenge is to look towards future dynamics and the role of artists in society. The value of art studies as it relates to industry, life and the need for improving general art education. Specifically, I address concerns in Marion County, Florida. This action plan presents the current state, the need for art education improvement and the challenge to our community and school board, with examples, for validation of the arts in the school curriculum. I hope to further develop this plan to explore more career-centered avenues for validation. I have gathered resources, however, I will need to keep my research ongoing.
Ocala Star Banner Articles:
New staffing plan good news for music, art teachers, 3/7/2013
Marion County is leading violator of Florida class-size amendment 12/10/2013
Editorial: Flouting the law 12/11/2013
School Board axes referendum on sales tax 1/23/2014
Supporters of school tax raising money, spreading message 2/7/2104
The district wants 181 more teachers 3/4/2014
Additional suggestions to be made to the school board include:
1) To develop a resource hub for Marion County Art Educators to share ideas and contact information for community members who have ties with agencies in the arts.
2) For administrators and supervisor personnel o be trained and qualified to evaluate teacher performance according to prevailing and traditional art educational pedagogy.
3) To have activated liaisons within the county who can help aid in curriculum development, mentoring and act as a facilitator and resource for art educators throughout.
4) To have more fluid and flexible computer network relationships with county IT.
5) To have closer relationships with warehouse staff and build a working, beneficial relationship for easy access to materials pertinent to our individualized teaching classrooms. The teachers should aide in ordering based on specific and current needs collectively.
6) Art classrooms need smaller class sizes to deliver technical oriented content.
7) Art classrooms need better technology to equip students for future endeavors.
8) The hiring of more teachers to cover the student population.
9) For board members and administrators to take seriously the visual arts and its role in current and future society.
10) For board member and administrators to see the correlation between arts, science and technology.
11) For board members to acknowledge the preservation of arts curriculum in Marion County Schools.
12) To provide opportunities for advancement to higher learning in the arts through technology acquisition and provision of workable budgets for materials and supplies.
Letter to be submitted to the Editor of Ocala Star Banner:
Universities and higher learning centers increasingly embrace the integration of art, science and technology. The University of Florida now has the Art + Technology program, a learning center providing students opportunity in using emerging technologies for art creation. Art education on the campus of M.I.T. often crosses boarders with other disciplines like math and engineering, giving students a chance to experience vital interrelationships throughout. As an art educator and parent, I wonder how our local school system is determined to ensure students from Marion County will be prepared for their future?
The role of artists in a pluralistic society is changing. Advancements in 3D printing pioneered by those like Bre Pettis, the science based artistic explorations of Fabian Oefner and the ventures of production house, Bot and Dolly, in robotics, projection mapping, and film, leave us with a sense of wonder. Careers in data visualization, medical animation and scientific research, often rely on skilled artists, competent in a variety of understandings. For example, Robert Lang, a physicist and engineer, teaches origami. Principles of which are applied to vehicle airbag construction and satellite operation. Artists are becoming integrated within a multitude of highly respected career fields. Furthermore, collaborations between professionals utilize keen observation and problem solving abilities art education fosters within learners.
There is a powerful renaissance happening “out there.” Our students should be afforded the opportunity to engage in it. We must first prepare them and that is where I leave this argument for your consideration. Our community needs to get involved when called upon financially and our school board should take provision for art education seriously. To hinder the efficacy of art education by staffing to few teachers, providing inadequate resources and filling overcrowded classrooms is to limit the equipping of Marion County’s children for their future.
Anderson, C. (0012, September 17). The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World | Design | WIRED. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2012/09/how-makerbots-replicator2-will-launch-era-of-desktop-manufacturing/3/
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BBC. (2010, November 03). Theo Jansen's Strandbeests - Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention Episode 1 Preview - BBC One. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSKyHmjyrkA
Bot & Dolly. (n.d.). Bot & Dolly. Retrieved from http://www.botndolly.com/
Chayka, K. (2011, May 17). Seven Artists Meet Seven Technologists, But Who’s Who? Retrieved from http://hyperallergic.com/24685/seven-on-seven-rhizome-review/
College of Fine Arts & University of Florida. (2011). Art + Technology. Retrieved from http://www.arts.ufl.edu/programs/art-technology.aspx
The Creators Project. (2013, October 01). Box by Bot & Dolly | Behind the Scenes. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4ajXJ3nj1Q
Exploratorium. (2014). Experience the Exploratorium. Retrieved from http://www.exploratorium.edu/
Fabian Oefner Studio. (n.d.). Fabian Oefner. Retrieved from http://fabianoefner.com/
Gareth Branwyn. (2009, September 19). Bre Pettis on Makerbot at Gnomedex 9. Retrieved from http://makezine.com/2009/09/19/bre-pettis-on-makerbot-at-gnomedex/
Independent Television Service. (2009, November 30). Between the folds. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/between-the-folds/
J. Paul Getty Trust. (n.d.). Science at the Getty Conservation Institute. Retrieved from http://www.getty.edu/conservation/about/science/
Lang Origami, R. J. (2004). About the Artist. Retrieved from http://www.langorigami.com/artist/artist.php
Make Magazine. (2009, January 29). Maker Profile - Kinetic Wave Sculptures on MAKE: Television. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dehXioMIKg0
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (2014). Conservation and Scientific Research. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/research/conservation-and-scientific-research
Muldoon, C., & Rodgers, P. (2002). A brief history of art and science. Physics World Archive, 40. Retrieved from http://physicsworldarchive.iop.org/index.cfm?action=search.home&quick=1&field1=*&query1=A+brief+History+of+art+and+science&newsearch=1
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RHIZOME. (2011, May 11). Rhizome | Do Artists and Technologists Create Things the Same Way? Seven on Seven Guests Respond. Retrieved from http://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/may/11/seven-seven-guests-answer/?ref=search_title
Studio Olafur Eliasson. (n.d.). Olafur Eliasson | Your emotional future. Retrieved from http://www.olafureliasson.net/exhibitions/your_emotional_future.html
TED Talks. (2009, August 07). Olafur Eliasson: Playing with space and light. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCGuG0uT6ks
TEDGlobal 2013. (n.d.). Fabian Oefner:Psychedelic science. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/fabian_oefner_psychedelic_science
Theo Jansen. (n.d.). Beast photos events theo jansen miniature beasts | books | dvd contact. Retrieved from http://www.strandbeest.com/
Zuba, M., & Depalma, N. (2013). Computational origami. XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 19(4), 48. doi: 10.1145/2460436.2460451
My First Book!
A Review on Olivia Gude, Doug Blandy and Patricia Stuhr
Art education has evolved to bring significant meaning to students through content and practice. Doing so validates art in the school curriculum. Authors Olivia Gude, Doug Blandy and Patricia Stuhr have all proposed pedagogies that offer meaningful experiences for students in the art classroom and validation of art educational practice on campuses throughout. By participating with material culture, exploring thematic content, and dealing with relevant ideas and problems, the authors deliver specific approaches that will contribute to the individual reaching their full potential. Their aims are to help the student define meaning individually and collectively, able to responsibly function within a democratic environment.
For Gude the focus tends to rely on Lowenfeldian approaches in educational practice. Engaging in quality art education, students create, “…the capacity to see and sense the complexity of oneself. Arts education develops the capacity for nuanced and eloquent articulation of experience, for developing the methods by which self and shared meaning is made” (Gude, 2009, p. 3). She concludes that in becoming art educated and artistically self actualized, one is able to develop empathy towards various worldviews and perspectives while activating personal meaning and a creative imagination (Gude, 2009).
Blandy specifies a threefold approach utilizing the participatory nature of art materials, themes of sustainability and the performance of art education within a democratic model. With cultural movements in digital media, individuals are no longer required to possess formal accolades or degrees to be qualified as an expert in proficiency or artistry. Age is of little significance and one’s followers dependent upon reputation and formation through interest and connectivity with the artists work. In these networks, “Free Agent Learners” gain experience and knowledge using digital media daily in and outside of the classroom (Blandy, 2011, p. 249). In organizing the Digital Media and Learning Conference, 2010, Henry Jenkins aided studies into the behavior of people ages 13-28 engaged with technology. Blandy states, “Because there is a close relationship between participatory culture and immersion in digital media and social networking through electronic forums, he (Jenkins) often focuses on children and youth because of their facility with technology” (p. 249). Digital formats beckon engagement. Younger generations are naturally proficient in these modes of creation, dissemination and exploration. Understanding new swings in youth culture are valuable to integrating relevant meaningful content into the classroom.
Stuhr focuses on the important cultural themes also relevant to student’s lives. Her goal is developing “social justice” and a subsequent understanding of the world for the student (Stuhr, 2003, p. 303). Emphasizing pertinent issues, controversial topics and exploring challenging ideas, like her predecessor, Art Educator Vincent Lanier, Stuhr sees art education as a means of social influence (Lanier, 1969). Stuhr supports empowering students to articulate and even tool art with cultural themes to infuse meaning and bring about changes in one’s thinking. “Art education, like all subjects, should be connected intimately to students' lives; therefore, curriculum, because of this connection to student life and their worlds, should be thought of as an ongoing process and not a product” (p. 303). Stuhr highlights the process of learning as of greater importance than the artifacts produced.
Blandy introduces sustainability as beneficial for art exploration. Sustainability primarily deals with “place” and has influence on our population’s perceptions, activity and the function of art in society. Including cultural, social and environmental themes, sustainability explores shared identity, fosters understanding human imprints, ways of life and artifacts. Blandy aims to create responsible citizens engaged in preserving, honoring and changing their surroundings for the betterment of all, concepts vital to a democratic society.
In quality art education students experience a dual mode of awareness and understanding (Gude, 2009, p. 1). Gude identifies that students engage in using their inner perceptions coupled with promptings from the outer world. For example, in looking at clouds or inkblots and using their imagination to envision alterations from the actual form, a student becomes integrated with the artistic process. Gude explains, “This is neither a journey to an isolated inner self nor an out-of-this-world trip, but the developed capacity to be aware of a self process through which one vividly notices and interacts with a world of objects and ideas” (Gude, 2009, p. 1). Gude further employs the importance of empathy, the act of relating to another’s experience and understanding the varying and often different viewpoints of others. In forming our own opinions, they may differ or coincide with another’s. Empathetic understanding is essential to the democratic process. Gude states, “…to be a truly democratic society we must persist in our individual and collective investigations of possibility; we must remain committed to thoughtfully engaging each other in our endeavors to make meaning and to make meaningful lives together“ (Gude, 2009, p. 5).
Stuhr ultimately aims for an individual who appreciates and understands cultural diversity. To Stuhr, culture study provides values, explores patterns and beliefs that bring meaning to a person and life’s ever-changing dynamics (Stuhr, 2003, p. 303). Culture and curriculum should be integrated and modeled for students as it will “...enable them to enjoy life and prepare them to be independent, yet socially responsible individuals and informed and critical citizens” (p. 304). Imperative are individuals who actively participate in a world where social justice is realized. Social justice is achieved when the individual reaches their full potential in human practice and honoring the collective and individual worth of a pluralistic society. Sturh believes this is done by, “…the investigation of social and cultural issues from multiple personal, local, national, and global perspectives” (p. 303).
Critical Response/Application/Personal Reflection
In exploring cultural themes, I would like to teach on a selfie project. I would like to see the students investigate the standardization of beauty, identity and self-image within a contemporary cultural context. I would challenge the students to explore the reality of human vulnerabilities and insecurities in being the author and subject of an image. Students could reconcile perceptions with the need for empathetic understanding of others and acceptance of self. Students would explore what culture says about beauty and identity as opposed to our natural and deeper personas. I would challenge students to consider rethinking their personal stances on world standards of aesthetics, beauty and identity stereotypes and our attitudes towards others of a different physical, cultural or social make up. Students would explore the use of apparel and how identifiers are formed because of represented fashion choices. Lastly, my students could uncover commonalities that we all face as individuals in society that lead to looking at people with discrimination, rejection, bullying, favorability, popularity and acceptance, producer and recipient. I would reference Dawoud Bey’s Class Picture series (Bey, 2007) and the Dove Selfie Project (Dove United States, 2014) for motivations, inspiration and modifications. Challenges include, provision of adequate technology, overcrowded classes, and some students being uncomfortable in self-portrayal or exhibition of self-imagery. I would seek the use of personal cell phone photography, shared technology among peers, allowing students to produce image ideas at home, (not limited to the classroom) and encourage engagement by modifying the assignment if needed and using inspirational sources (portrait of another person and/or inspiration from aforementioned sources).
Bey, D. (2008). Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey. Milwaukee Art Museum. Retrieved March 9, 2014, from http://mam.org/bey/gallery.htm
Blandy, D. (2011). Sustainability, participatory culture, and the performance of democracy: Ascendant sites of theory and practice in art education. Studies in Art Education, 52(3), 243-255. Retrieved from http://www.arteducators.org/research/studies
Dove United States. (2014, January 19). Selfie. YouTube. Retrieved 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFkm1Hg4dTI
Gude, O. (2009). Art education for democratic life. Paper presented at the NAEA Lowenfeld Lecture, . Retrieved from www.arteducators.org/research/2009_LowenfeldLecture_OliviaGude.pdf
Lanier, V. (1969). The Teaching of Art as Social Revolution. The Phi Delta Kappan,
50(6), 314-319. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20372341
Stuhr, P. L. (2003). A tale of why social and cultural content is often excluded from art education: And why it should not be. Studies in Art Education, 44(4), 301-314. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1321019
Authors Doug Blandy, Olivia Gude and Patricia Stuhr, see contemporary art education as a means to promote the ethical self-actualization of a student who is operative in a democratic society and classroom. Furthermore, the authors promote encouraging students to develop habits of inquiry. All the while participating in a material rich society as they explore relevant cultural and conceptual content in class and in life. Gude suggests that art education instills empathy and develops one’s imagination (Gude, 2009, p. 4). Quality art education also helps students define meaning in the arts and in life. These understandings are vital to functioning within a democratic environment. Gude furthermore states, “…education in the arts creates the capacity to see and sense the complexity of oneself. Arts education develops the capacity for nuanced and eloquent articulation of experience, for developing the methods by which self and shared meaning is made” (Gude, 2009, p. 3).
Blandy, Gude and Stuhr identify specific components that art education can use in the plight of staying relevant and meeting the developmental, social and intellectual needs of the student. Blandy includes the world’s need for sustainability as well as the participatory and materialistic nature of art and technology in experiencing, creating and analyzing artifacts (Blandy, 2011). Gude sticks closely with the inclusion of Lowenfeld ideologies that promote self-actualization through experience and exploration in art materials and subjects. Stuhr emphasizes the need for cultural relevance and like Lanier before her, does not avoid the inclusion of controversial subject matter as it relates to the student’s real life situations (Stuhr, 2003; Lanier, 1969).
Just as each culture is different, so is each generation, campus and class. Of course commonalities exist among the human experience throughout, yet each specific classroom has unique needs, just like the individual student. I feel the challenges faced by the authors thus far are summarized like so; they approach universal ideas (empathy, wonder, inquiry and meaning) but do so using transitional cultural methods. The authors’ approaches are based on the cultural reserves of the moment. To me they are all worthy of exploration and in specific instances application. In general, a blending of the ideologies past and present as they are applicable may be a more complete approach.
I see some individual and universal obstacles too. The major being systemization of our schools, increasingly in art curriculum maps, content and assessment standards. (Our county is implementing those next year). This leads to another major obstacle. Like in times past receptivity to new ideas is key. As Stuhr points out, no one listens (Stuhr, 2003), and more emphatically I maintain, no one understands. I seriously hope it isn’t that no one really cares. On that note, I think it is imperative to require training for administrators in arts pedagogy. How can one supervise and assesse when uninformed and unqualified themselves?
I recently taught on the Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement for African American History Month. I teach in a very multicultural setting. Many of my students come from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, South America, N.Y. or Miami. Many students are bilingual and some are the first in their family to speak English primarily.
I used the thematic event to promote enduring ideas in transition with art creation. I was surprised at the great disconnect that my students had regarding some of the facts and issues and more importantly the relevance to their own freedoms. However, to note, some students had a more complete knowledge of the historical record. I wanted to show relevancy between issues of equality, non-violent protest, and the power of a collective voice. These intrinsic values held true as we explored the content applying principles to our classroom, campus and lives. We all gained new understanding throughout.
We made three projects from the lesson: posters identifying key words relatable to our lives then and now, a puzzle pop art piece where each child produced a few squares that were integrated into an image of Dr. Martin Luther King and a personal collage exploring “repetition that creates rhythm in a piece of art work.” We used images from the civil rights movement and lettering to communicate personal understandings and expressions regarding the historical event.
In all the wisdoms gained from other art educators and leaders, it is paramount, as is the thesis thread within these readings, to use art as a means in educating the individual for self-actualization, thriving development, success and survival in our pluralistic world. Doing so involves understanding culture, activating participation and responsibility within democratic processes. We operate individually and collectively in a democratic society that affords us opportunities for learning, understanding, harmony and tolerance. In this, we are good to offer and share ideas to develop this personal and collective growth, just like we should teach our students through art education.
Blandy, D. (2011). Sustainability, participatory culture, and the performance of democracy: Ascendant sites of theory and practice in art education. Studies in Art Education, 52(3), 243-255.
Lanier, V. (1969). The Teaching of Art as Social Revolution. The Phi Delta Kappan, 50(6), 314-319. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20372341
Gude, O. (2009). Art education for democratic life [NAEA Lowenfeld Lecture]. Retrieved from http://www.arteducators.org/research/2009_LowenfeldLecture_OliviaGude.pdf
Stuhr, P. L. (2003). A tale of why social and cultural content is often excluded from art education and why it should not be. Studies in Art Education, 44(4), 301-314.
Painting Robots DIY
Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, Ocala, Florida. We have begun experimentating using recycled cell phone motors for a DIY bristle bot that can paint. One of my students created his own modification of the design using a motor from a broken game controller, a 9 volt battery and a hair brush.
Art Educator, Professional Photographer, Journalist. Alumni: