Monday, August 30, 2010

Former Arts Endowment Official Takes Arts Ed Advocates To Task

In the new edition of Education Next, Mark Bauerlein takes a dim view of the nature of arts education advocacy and offers a prescription for improvement, namely a focus on arts as a discrete discipline and a more entrepreneurial approach overall.

Click on through to read Advocating for Arts in the Classroom
In essence, Bauerlein sees a field of arts education advocates who have the wrong message, are disconnected from real schools, and fail to seek solutions outside of the public sector.

While I admire Bauerlein's passion, the piece had an out of touch quality to it with neat little boxes for advocates, teachers, the relationship between arts and parts of the school curriculum, and overall messaging. If only it were that simple.

The field of arts education should not be viewed solely through the lens of Arts Education Partnership meetings in 2003-2005. That being said, the people who attend AEP forums include education policy makers such as chief state school officers, district superintendents, school board members, and yes, "advocates" such as directors of education at museums and cultural organizations. But don't be fooled by the neat little boxes, as many of those" who attend AEP and other similar conferences have regular duties and expertise in providing professional development for those who deliver instruction in the classroom, including school teachers and teaching artists.

Many of these advocates, who wear multiple hats, have been writing exemplary arts curricula that animates and extends the very standards that Bauerlein lauds. And, many of these individuals have been working hard to bring back certified arts teachers in the big cities that saw their teachers disappear bit-by-bit over a 30 year period. These very same people are on the front lines, partnering with school communities to create, grow, and sustain the arts. And, contrary to the picture painted by Bauerlein, some of these people and their organizations lead workshops on budgeting, scheduling, assessment, funding, and more, for their colleagues in the schools, including principals, teachers, and parents.

It's a big field with a lot going on.

The best part of Bauerlein's piece centers in his belief that advocacy for the arts must be based fundamentally on the arts as a discrete discipline.

No comments:

Post a Comment