Part 3 - The Multiple Paths to Knowing?
by Alice Lovelace
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This article was delivered as a keynote speech at the 1998 Fall Conference: Expressive Arts in Alternative Education at the Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education on the University of Oklahoma's Norman Campus Thurman White Forum Building, November 6, 1998. © Alice Lovelace, 1998. All footnotes and references are available in a separate browser window - click on footnote numbers throughout text.The Multiple Paths To Knowing
Today, thanks to the on-going research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, educators understand that the ability to memorize data or write literal text are not the only ways to demonstrate intelligence. Today we recognize that intelligence comes in multiple forms. We acknowledge that intelligence can be expressed through seven separate ways of knowing (some are now saying eight -- what is being called natural intelligence).
According to one of the pioneers in the theory of multiple intelligences, Dr. Howard Gardner:
We are not limited to only one intelligence, but usually have some aspects of all. Some people are particularly strong in one area. These are doorways through which the arts have accessed children and adults for hundreds of years. According to David Lazear, our intelligence tool box might contain any combination of the following implements: (28)
The expressive arts encourage students to learn and create from a position of personal power. The expressive arts embrace the multiple intelligences, thereby providing an opportunity for every students to be successful regardless of their reading or writing level. Through the expressive arts, education becomes a dialogue that pleases the ear with its rhythm, touches the heart with its sentiment, and speak to the mind with its reason.
The expressive arts facilitate language development, reading comprehension, and communication skills. Through the medium of making art students explore the landscape of meaning that rests beyond the literal word and their conscious world; they learn to hear and decode symbolic language; and they discover new metaphors that help them to unlock the meaning of education.
The expressive arts teach us how to practice evaluation, reflection, theory, and practice in unison - - making something from nothing. The expressive arts enlarge our capacity for joy, breaks the hold that symbols and symbolic language has on our thinking and thereby expands our thinking. Each of these ways of knowing combines in the making of art, as this sixth grade students knows.
I would like t offer some insight into what we, teachers and artists, can do to help integrate the arts into the classroom. I believe, we must look to models like project CREATE from The Center For Creative Education in West Palm Beach, Florida. According to their literature, The CENTER support partnership among schools, artists, community-based organizations and human service providers in order to integrate the arts into academic curriculum. The CENTER provides coordination, technical assistance, advocacy, training and fundraising for the partnership, and endeavors to advance school reform.
The Center For Creative Education promotes a vision of society in which creative learning and expression are integral to our sense of community life and fulfillment; where all people are valued for their curiosity and creativity; and each individual has the opportunity to exercise his or her creative potential; where the arts and humanities are accessible and diverse; and where creative use of the arts and humanities are agents of community understanding, tolerance, and improvement.
One such program is CREATE; a teacher and artist development model. CREATE trains and disseminates information about the philosophy and methods of "creative learning" to teachers from public and private systems, arts professions, human service professions, and others serving children and special needs population. CREATE provides artist and teachers with an opportunity to find new tools to help their students achieve higher thinking skills and academic success then they would through traditional paper-and-pencil methods. Another component is an annual showcase which allows participants to share with their colleagues approaches that have been successful at other schools.
At the core of their work is a commitment to work for long-term systemic change because the staff understands that any changes at the school level, must be within a process of on-going training. Specialized training is offered for teachers, service providers, and artists in arts-integration strategies and in alternative assessment and evaluation. This training is a part of a larger five-year plan designed to help arts and education professionals track and document arts integration strategies as a verified way to help students improve their performance, self-esteem, behavior, and attendance.
In partnership, we must learn to develop a S.M.A.R.T. approaches to teaching with artists and teachers in collaboration. To teach S.M.A.R.T. is to be Specific, to set outcomes that are Measurable, to make learning Action oriented, to be Realistic in your expectations, and to make sure instruction is Timely. Like middle managers we must develop 2-3 approaches to achieve the learning goals, allowing students to have a choice in how they will learn, even if they can't chose what they will learn.
In the classroom we must not just talk about democracy and respect we must practice them. We must recognize and overcome our own biases. Racism and gender bias are built into many of our systems and we must be vigilant with ourselves, each other, and our students to not let it tear down the good work we do. We must recognize the effect and affect of race and identity representation in education; whether it emanates from the text, the system, or the teacher; know that the impact on the youth entrusted to our charge can be profound and devastating.
Our students are counting on us.
As we struggle to understand how to serve the growing ranks of young students being sent into alternative programs, we must educate ourselves about what others are doing in the area of arts in education. There is great potential in programs like The Center for Creative Education. I can also recommend the model of Horizons School in Atlanta, an alternative high school where I have volunteered for fifteen years.
Horizons is a school where students are expected to be active participants in the education they achieve; where labor, the performing arts, literary arts, and academics are equals. Every Friday of the school year, the entire student body assembles in an open forum that allows students to become active participants in their education as they grapple with social and political issues that affect students and their ability to succeed, with issues of discipline, or with school policy.
Perhaps you are familiar with the New Orleans based program YA/YA (Young Artists/Young Aspirations), a visual arts after school program through which young artists have become entrepreneurs, marketing their products for companies as diverse as Burger King, Swatch, and the United Nations. (31) Each has something important to tell us about satisfying the needs of the young as we prepare them to become contributing citizens and humane beings.
In 1996 Linda Frye Burnham published a list of questions she hoped would spark a dialogue between artists and educators. Linda is editor of High Performance Magazine, a publication that no longer appears in printed form, but continues as an on-line publication were I serve as a contributing editor. Her twenty three questions were drawn from the writing of teachers in "Writing Within School Reform" a publication series of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, funded by the Coalition of Essential Schools.(32) I draw upon my experiences and Linda's questions to offer some areas of collaboration and partnership that might prove fruitful for artists and teachers.
The making of art satisfies our human needs to have meaningful work; for self-consciousness and freedom; and is transformational, expressing self determination and positive human development. In the words of the youth:
When used as the foundation for learning within the alternative school setting the expressive arts help to create a sense of community where students and teacher draw from the strength of each other; where each individual is acknowledged as worthy of help at times and at other times capable of giving help to others; where the task of leadership is shared; where everyone is responsible for encouraging each other; and finally " We must stand by one another in difficult times and help the one who has dropped out regain his place." (34)
Before I close, I return once more to the slightly modified words of Mr. Ellison:
We are called to embrace the strength, the courage, the endurance, and the promise as well as the uniqueness" of these students. (35) Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great experiment. I look forward to speaking to each of you to share ideas and insights about this vital undertaking as we struggle to help those who have "dropped out regain their place" in society.
The 1998 Fall Conference: Expressive Arts in Alternative Education at the Oklahoma Center for Continuing Education on the University of Oklahoma's Norman Campus Thurman White Forum Building, November 6, 1998 was sponsored by: the University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education, Oklahoma Arts Council, the Art therapy Association of Oklahoma, The Oklahoma Technical Assistance Center in cooperation with the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
|Published in In Motion Magazine November, 1998.
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