Recently by Jack Lew

By Paul Erickson on December 1, 2008 5:22 PM
What a great blog to discover - with many thanks to my wife and her cohorts at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
As a 57-year-old student teacher, I'm daily battling the incursions and distractions of students' hand-held digital media devices while trying to carve through the ennui with film-strip projectors, circa 1971. I think I'm probably not the only one dealing with techno-lag. That, in fact, is the topic of my master's thesis.
Are classrooms and teachers equipped to deal with the digital millennium? Can we find ways to harness technology to our advantage and use it to engage students? I would be most interested to hear from other Luddites in the arts and educational communities regarding their thoughts about pod-pedagogy.
My kids can teach me if I can only find ways to keep them awake. Any thoughts?

From Jack Lew to Paul...
In my summary blog, I would like to respond to Paul Erickson's comment above which is THE topic that is most relevant to me. My bio only cites my recent career in the video games industry but what was left out were 6 years in film animation and 24 years of teaching art in higher education plus being a practicing artist for at least that long. Here is my direct reply to you, Paul:
I've had a number of conversations with current educators in high schools, and if they were frank, they would go as far as to say that they simply are afraid of the technology with the biggest fear being that their students know more than they do. As technology advances at lightning speed, the gap between today's students and their teachers widens exponentially. We can get all the funding and policy changes we dream of but if we don't empower the teachers to understand and exploit these new tools, they will continue to have a difficult time engaging today's students. I still hold the belief that learning happens best between teacher and student but outside of school there is the community, and this community expands beyond the traditional community of concert halls, museums, theater, etc. There is also the virtual community - fertile, vibrant, and confusing. This generation of digital natives have grown up in this community of the web, Wikipedia, Facebook, MySpace, Video games, Second Life and much more.
You are not alone in your plight. If I had not entered the high tech entertainment industry, I might have been a Luddite but my 10 years in industry have opened the eyes of the educator in me to all types of possibilities that new technologies can provide. I applaud you for tackling this challenging issue as your thesis. Don't lose heart as you wade through this daunting arena because there will also be plenty of resources in the cyber world. You will learn and become more confident with time but your students may still be a couple steps ahead of you when it comes to the technology. But remember, at the end, these are just tools and sources at the service of education; it will always be you, the teacher, who provides the wisdom and context. Good luck, and if you wish to contact me directly, I am happy to provide some direction.

December 5, 2008 10:38 AM | | Comments (0) |

We've not discussed the economic impact of the creative sector. Perhaps legislators and policy makers who are not willing to give arts education its due value, will take a second look at hard numbers. The following quotes come from a poster I received from the Ringling College of Art and Design. Their sources for these stats come from the Bureau of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, Americans for the Arts, Entertainment Software Association.
-1.25 million Americans work in the visual arts.
-One in 111 jobs is in art and design.
-The economic impact of art and design exceeds that of sports worldwide.
-Jobs in design have increased 43% in the past ten years.
-Yearly sales of art reach an estimated $10 billion in the U.S. alone.
-200,000 people are employed in the film industry.
-People spend approximately $55 billion annually on video games and related hardware.
-The computer animation industry generates $33 billion annually.
-America's nonprofit arts industry generates $134 billion in economic activity every year.
-Analyst John Hawkins estimates that the creative sector will be worth $6.1 trillion internationally in less than 15 years - the largest economy in the world.

December 3, 2008 7:22 AM | | Comments (1) |

Following up on Eric's comment, "about taking a skill or craft to a high level of expression, about inquiring and exploring in original ways and coming to new discoveries." I want to cite a project we at EA sponsored titled, "The Sims In the Hands of Artists" where we provided a video game to 3 art schools to use as a creative tool and the climax was an exhibit of the work held in NYC, SF and LA. We had no idea what to expect but we did know that the students were highly skilled/engaged in playing video games and understood the medium. The end result far exceeded our expectations in terms of interest and creativity. The students not only readily embraced the tool but they also dissected it and came up with inventive ways of redeploying this tool to create films, installations, and traditional objects. As sponsors, we never said, create Art, we just said, here is an amazing tool, see what you come up with. Discovery and expression can of course come from traditional modes but the possibilities in new media are hitting us right in the face and today's students are fearlessly grasping it. If you Google "The Sims In the Hands of Artists," you will get over 4 million links. Talk about scope of interest!
The first link is an article from Art News:
This link if from USA Today:

December 2, 2008 7:15 AM | | Comments (1) |

Let's also look at how we deliver arts education in today's classrooms. When I was a student back in the Sixties, we worked in traditional media of that era - pencil, woodcuts, watercolor, and clay. We didn't have digital tools that today's generation grew up with. While the fundamentals of art and design can still be learned through traditional media, there is an array of possibilities with new tools such as computer graphics, the web, and handheld devices just to name a few. Understandably, there is resistance from teachers of the previous generation when they have not had the same exposure as their students, but what a shame that these teachers are not empowered with these new tools. Perhaps it begins with providing appropriate training for our teachers.

December 1, 2008 10:14 AM | | Comments (1) |


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