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Art, Artists and Teaching

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This brief report outlines the results of a June 2002 symposium that brought together “leaders in the fields of art and education to explore new ways to infuse the creative impulses of the arts and artists into education in America”. The intent of the report is to “generate discussion, stimulate partnerships and create incentives to explore the roles of artists as teachers”. Similar to the other arts education reports reviewed in this issue of the Arts Research Monitor, this report notes that “effective change won’t come from unilateral efforts but through collaborative partnerships”.

The report notes that it is ironic that the business community requires creative people in order to compete in today’s global economy, yet the educational system puts greater importance on math, science and other “hardcore” disciplines, which are seen as more useful. This report posits that the teaching of art is “fundamental – even critical – to developing a healthy and creative post-industrial society”.

The report sees the artist’s role in teaching as a “pedagogy that encourages making, attending, problem solving, taking responsibility and experience”. In this way, “the arts help to promote both the creative abilities and cultural literacy that are critical to developing fully engaged citizens in the global society”.

The report sees an opportunity for arts education policy, practice and research to link together to influence public support and awareness and highlight good examples of uses of the arts in education. On a policy level, the report advocates the use of artists in the classroom setting, thereby alleviating part of the burden on teachers to master a growing list of subjects. This is precisely the policy item outlined in the April 2003 Ontario Throne Speech, which indicated that the Ontario government will “allow athletes, musicians, artists and tradespeople to act as expert instructors or volunteers” in schools. The US report notes that “collecting and publicizing good practice” can be helpful for public policy and advocacy initiatives. Research is seen as feeding both good practice and good policy, by engaging the field, evaluating, and informing improvements.

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