So What Do We do, asks Eric?

By Richard Kessler
Eric asks: So what do we do? Richard grounds my dream of our field ever coming to any kind of consensus about a deeper truth that contains our organic polarities that we can all get behind. The public has a limited definition that balkanizes and limits the range and value of arts and arts education? Michael and Edward and others point out that the action ground is local, and the remarkable example of Dallas and Big Thought provides a sense that movement is possible under their circumstance anyway. So what do we do?

What do we do? How do we harness the kaleidoscope of arts and arts education allowing key elements to come forth, universals that are ultimately understood by everyone because everyone has a connection to some part of this larger canvass we call arts and arts education.

I think that sometimes in an effort to organize the work into a prototypical education framework, such as standards and curricula, we lose the meaning and opportunities for everyone to see themselves in the art. People paint, people write sentences; people decorate their homes; people cook; people go looking for the most outrageous holiday decorations. The everyday arts, they are there among the more rarified, more technical, professional-based brand.

I think that part of the answer lies in helping to create a fertile ground in schools and community for local context to be created, rather than having it come from up high. What goals, partners, structures, disciplines, does the school want to pursue, rather than having some meta structure or approach handed down.

The most interesting work I have seen among the over 130 whole school arts partnership CAE had created came from the local context of educators, students, parents, and partners forging their own vision. It takes work, to empower and develop the capacity, but the authenticity of the work often has legs that sustain it and positively change the culture within a school or community setting.

December 2, 2008 9:28 AM | | Comments (1) |


Richard, I think you are catching one consistent theme in this barrage of dialogue. Focus on creating an arts-rich, non-semantically-limited, engaging culture at the school and local level. Using arts teachers as resources, and taking seriously what we know about creating arts-alive cultures in classrooms and moving that into whole schools and communities.

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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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