Monday, March 4, 2013

Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts Program

One of the highlights of 2013 (so far) was being accepted into the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts program. I am more than honored to be a part of this; I am grateful. During the four overnight retreat meetings we'll have all over the state this spring, the 2013 class will benefit from participating in panel discussions and experiencing methods of training that will be useful in our own businesses. We'll also be given useful tools in learning how to be better advocates for the arts in Oklahoma. I really want to do all that I can to help encourage the growth and quality of arts in this state, so I will take all of the free education I can get. I also want to make sure that I take every opportunity to learn how to be a better leader, so this couldn't have come at a better time.

At our first meeting, held at the beautiful Quartz Mountain, I met some incredible people. INCREDIBLE!!!  I'm so lucky to be a part of this group. The main thing that I took away from this initial experience was the fact that I had been so confident that I could see the big picture in relation to arts education. After our panel discussion over the topic, I realized that I only saw things from my perspective. I have been preaching and preaching about arts integration being the key, and that's because I was seeing things from a regular classroom teachers view. I discovered, after listening to everyone else, that I was forgetting something. What about time to develop mastery of skill? What about a class devoted to art for art's sake? What about experiences dedicated to music for music's sake? As a musician who was lucky enough to take voice and piano lessons after school, I just assumed that any serious artist or musician would be devoting time, outside of school, to that pursuit. That's not always the case.

I don't have all the answers yet and I doubt that I ever will. But I will say that my dream model for arts education would look something like this:

1. Arts integration in Math, Science, History, Language, etc. during the school day
2. Art, Music, Drama and Dance classes for electives in school
3. Private and group lessons in Art, Music, Drama and Dance after school

But here's the deal. A new friend that I made at this first session, Lisa Allswede from Funky Box Studios in Edmond, said something similar to this and I agree; we should allow students to cultivate their own interests. Not every child will want to be an artist, musician, dancer or actor when they grow up. Everyone is different. So why not help our students to explore what it is that they are interested in and base their curriculum on that?

I am in love with the idea of students telling their teachers about what they are interested in and want to learn more about, and then a team of educators integrating everything they need to learn into education based on those ideas. If you haven't checked out the Keystone Adventure School and Farm (also in Edmond), give it a look. I think what they do there is pretty impressive. SixTwelve will definitely be doing something similar. I'm excited to think about it!

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