I’m a fan of core principles, or at least statements of core principles, because they offer such a productive launch point for a focused conversation. If you tell me what you believe to be at the center of things, we can explore together where we disagree on the basis of our thinking, rather than the tactics and strategies we use.
So, I was pleased that an associate pointed me to the Lincoln Center Institute, the education arm of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and their on-going effort to define and advance core principles of aesthetic education in public schools. Their nine ”Capacities for Imaginative Learning” offer some useful language to define the goals of integrated arts education. But to my eye, they also describe the core competencies of a vibrant and engaged cultural organization, or even an ”artful manager” (the following excerpted from ”Aesthetic Education, Inquiry, and the Imagination,” available for PDF download):
- Noticing Deeply: To identify and articulate layers of detail in a work of art through continuous interaction with it over time.
- Embodying: To experience a work of art through your senses, as well as emotionally, and also to physically represent that experience.
- Questioning: To ask questions throughout your explorations that further your own learning; to ask the question, “What if?”
- Making Connections: To connect what you notice and the patterns you see to your prior knowledge and experiences, as well as to others’ knowledge and experiences….
- Identifying Patterns: To find relationships among the details you notice, group them, and recognize patterns.
- Exhibiting Empathy: To respect the diverse perspectives of others in our community, to understand the experiences of others emotionally as well as in thought.
- Creating Meaning: To create your own interpretations based on the previous capacities, see these in the light of others in the community, create a synthesis, and express it in your own voice.
- Taking Action: To act on the synthesis of what you have learned in your explorations through a specific project. This includes projects in the arts, as well as in other realms….
- Reflecting/Assessing: To look back on your learning, continually assess what you have learned, assess/identify what challenges remain, and assess/identify what further learning needs to happen. This occurs not only at the end of a learning experience, but is part of what happens throughout that experience. It is also not the end of your learning; it is part of beginning to learn something else.
Do the above describe the core values of your arts organization? Your management style? Your programs, educational and otherwise? If not, where would you suggest different language?