April 2011 | William Storey, New York Times - "The actor Kevin Spacey visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday — officially Arts Advocacy Day — to bolster support for public arts funding. He appeared at a gathering organized by the nonprofit group Americans for the Arts to build support for a $167.5 million allocation to the National Endowment for the Arts. Members of Congress were there too, rallying support for the N.E.A, normally one of the first agencies on the chopping block during budget fights.
“The elemental definition of the human soul is that yearning for beauty and expression that we find reflected in the arts,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, while accepting the 2011 Congressional Arts Leadership Award. “Other than the opposable thumb, I think it’s the defining thing that makes us a successful and unique species.” The energy generated by the gathering may have been for naught, as the possibility of a government shutdown led congressional committees to postpone all the hearings scheduled this week to discuss funding for the N.E.A., National Endowment for the Humanities and other arts programs. Robbed of the opportunity to testify before members of an appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Spacey read his prepared remarks anyway, in what he called “a little street theater.”
On Monday night, Mr. Spacey, a two-time Academy Award-winner, delivered an impassioned call for the cause at the 24th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center." Full Article
March 2011 | ArtsEd Digest - "The leaders of the annual TED conference, known for featuring short, carefully prepared talks on big ideas about technology and society, hope to apply their approach to education. Recently, they announced TED-Ed, which will provide a hand-picked set of free online educational talks, many submitted by educators themselves but enhanced by TED officials. An online forum, the Ted-Ed Brain Trust, will encourage discussion of how to reform teaching using the videos and other technology. The online forum is scheduled to open in late March.
The project will also create an updated listing of the more than 900 existing TED talks, arranging them by categories that align more neatly to academic disciplines. TED—short for “Technology, Entertainment, Design”—started back in the 1980s and has grown into something of a media venture, distributing its talks free online. To learn more about TED, visit www.ted.com."
April 2011 | Trip Gabriel, New York Times - "Does President Obama believe standardized testing has gone too far? Mr. Obama criticized “high-stakes” tests last week at a town-hall-style meeting, contrasting them with less-pressured tests his daughters took in their Washington private school. Those remarks, which did not receive wide coverage at the time, have since prompted close followers of education policy to wonder whether the president opposes his own Education Department. In the public forum, hosted by the Spanish broadcaster Univision on March 28, a high school student, Luis Zeyala, asked the president if there could be less testing in schools.
Mr. Obama agreed that “we have piled on a lot of standardized tests” under federal education law, meaning the annual proficiency tests in reading and math given to Grades 3 through 8 as well as once in high school. “Now, there’s nothing wrong with a standardized test being given occasionally just to give a base line of where kids are at,” he continued. “Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test. But it wasn’t a high-stakes test. It wasn’t a test where they had to panic.” Mr. Obama went on to denounce how standardized tests had narrowed the curriculum and led to teaching to the test." Full Article
April 2011 | Joel Brown,Boston.com - "If you run into a second line procession winding through Harvard Square in the months to come, you might check to see if trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is leading the way. The jazz great and New Orleans native will become a recurring presence on the Harvard University campus, as part of Harvard president Drew Faust’s initiative to better integrate the arts into education there. Marsalis said he made the commitment because “I feel there’s a lot our music has to teach us about who we are, and I feel Harvard is the preeminent institute of higher education in the United States of America, and what they choose to do is studied and imitated by universities and colleges all over this country and around the world.’’
The Harvard initiative “is the wave of the future, the first true waking up of our country about the need to integrate the arts into general education in a profound way,’’ Marsalis said.
Currently artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis will spend two or three days in Cambridge six times during the next two years, beginning with a visit this month that includes an April 28 Sanders Theater lecture/performance, “Music as Metaphor.’’ His lectures will address the relationship between music and the American identity, and include performances by his own quintet, a New Orleans parade band, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, among others." Full Article
April 2011 | Laura Milas, NAEA Monthly Mentor - "One student excels at interpreting the visual world around them. Their works amaze others with their fidelity to life and high level of craftsmanship. Another student has journals full of ideas and often fails to complete a piece of art. Which individual embodies your definition of creativity?
The high school art department in which I work has been wrestling with our program goals in the area of creativity for some time. At first, we merely wanted to provide students (and ourselves) with a workable definition of creative thinking. We expected that once students understood the process, they would be able to model it. Wrong! Students continued to pursue photographic realism with little thought about how to take this training of their eyes into more original paths. Although, we have continued to celebrate the training of the eye and the training of the brain, our students continue to make their own values known.
Now, we are working together to see how we might restructure our classrooms and assignments to capitalize on our findings. We are clearly wrestling to find a balance between our students’ interest in traditional skills in art and our needs to educate all students to exercise their creative thinking skills. As John Dewey discussed in Art as Experience, we are trying to set up conditions where art is experienced by our students in both practice and theory. We want students to understand art as well as know it." Full Article