Recently by Susan Sclafani

I have been fascinated by the thoughtful responses and frustrated by the tangents that made it difficult to decide where and when to get back into the conversation if it were to be a conversation.  However, I do believe that valuable insights have been shared that deserve an additional forum for discussion.  I worry that a week would be an extraordinary and difficult commitment from the busy people in this blog, but it would allow for a more focused conversation.  If it can be done, it does need a more varied group of participants, including practitioners who have had success and those whose success was short-lived, policy people from the national and state levels, educators from general education and arts education, as well as the experts on the blog.  It also requires a highly skilled facilitator who can gather the threads together and weave a coherent conversation.

As Richard Kessler and others have mentioned, it is not only arts education that is difficult to sustain, even in the light of good evidence of success.  That happens all too often when a new principal or superintendent comes in and wants to put his or her stamp on the organization.  Old programs go because they were part of the old philosophy or just reminders of the old regime or because resources are needed for the new programs of the new leader.  It has led to cynicism among teachers and central office staff and it makes every innovation harder to sell.  I would agree that more research is needed, but I worry that research studies often do not take into account the importance of the individuals implementing the program.  Learning is complex and dependent upon so many intangibles as well as measurable factors, that it is hard to capture the impact of a particular program.  It is also impossible to take the evidence from what well-trained and passionately committed educators and artists are able to do and replicate it in schools that lack such educators and artists.  One essential role for arts organizations and higher education institutions is the development of the artists, arts educators and general educators who work with our students.

December 5, 2008 12:53 PM | | Comments (1) |
I want to agree with Eric in the sense that  I am regularly being asked both here and abroad about how we can teach innovation and creativity--perhaps that is "the greater truth" that Eric mentioned.  There is a growing consensus that our future success will be determined, not just by greater productivity in the areas that have traditionally fed our economy, but by a constant stream of innovation that will capture the imagination of consumers across the world.  Apple's iPod and iPhone are great examples.  Apple can never stand still; it must always have the next product in production because the first will be copied and sold for less within months. The business community and middle-class parents understand that education in the arts and design will be their ticket to future success.  Large corporations are hiring MFAs along with MBAs.  This is the message that needs to be delivered to state governments and local communities.  I actually put more faith in actions in local communities than in state policy based on the total lack of attention to NCLB's inclusion of the arts in the core curriculum.  According to NCLB, the arts must be part of the curriculum provided to students in every grade--has it made it happen?  No.  We see better results from local community actions as Edward Pauly suggested.  Keep Arts in Schools ( provides good examples of local efforts that are making a real difference like Big Thought in Dallas.  Big Thought has galvanized the foundation and business communities to work with the schools and arts organizations to ensure access for families and children.  We can use the push for innovation and creativity to galvanize other communities as well.
December 2, 2008 6:38 AM | | Comments (3) |
As a long-time education practitioner and more recent policy person,  I am delighted to contribute.  Many have asked about what we mean by "culture" and that is a real issue.  I think we need to look at what interests students and build upon that--if it is their music, we can start there and then contrast it to more classical pieces.  The same is true for art-moving from grafitti to caligraphy to abstract art, or similar movement in dance or theater.  We cannot convince students that "the arts" should be important to them unless we help them see that what they are doing counts as art as well.  We cannot assume that all of our teachers are prepared to do this, but that is where our arts associations and institutions need to contribute.  I agree that the arts institutions should be worried about demand, but that requires their involvement in offering professional development to teachers and access to students.  If students are demanding access to the arts, it is more likely that systems will respond.  If no one complains that it is not part of the education offerings, why would education systems focused on the NCLB scoreboard be worried about including it?
December 1, 2008 2:30 PM | | Comments (0) |


This Conversation For decades, as teaching of the arts has been cut back in our public schools, alarms have been raised about the dire consequences for American culture. Artists and arts organizations stepped in to try to... more

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Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
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Eric Booth, Actor;
Midori, Violinist;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
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