Monday, May 11, 2009

Quincy Jones Makes Eloquent Plea for Arts Education

"Every great society from the Egyptians, to the Greek and Roman Empires, has been defined by its cultural contributions. The commercial benefits of the arts not withstanding -- our artistic endeavors are a consistent source of revenue in the United States and our nation's largest export -- can we really run the risk of becoming a culturally bankrupt nation because we have not inserted a curriculum into our educational institutions that will teach and nurture creativity in our children?"

In the Huffington Post (dated May 9), jazz icon Quincy Jones calls for a plan of action to "make music education an ongoing part of the lives of children in the United States."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Astronaut Mae Jemison on Reintegrating the Arts and Sciences

Mae Jemison, best known for being the first African American woman in space, presents a new vision of learning that combines arts and sciences, intuition and logic in a February TED Talk.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Making Learning Whole by David Perkins

In his latest book Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education, David Perkins presents an alternative to the superficiality and fragmentation inherent in so much of today's teaching and learning. Perkins, who is co-director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, diagnoses today's education as suffering from "elementitis" (learning all the elements of a subject without learning the whole) and "aboutitis" (learning about a subject without doing it). He presents his seven principles by connecting them to the way countless kids become skilled to some degree in the game of baseball.

Here is the complete list of principles is:
  1. Play the whole game.
  2. Make the game worth playing.
  3. Work on the hard parts.
  4. Play out of town.
  5. Uncover the hidden game.
  6. Learn from the team . . . and other teams.
  7. Learn the game of learning.
"Play the whole game" is the first of the seven principles —and it's the overarching one. Perkins says playing a "junior version" of the whole game, often involving some type of inquiry or performance that crosses disciplines, is what promotes the kind of understanding that students will be able to apply in a range of contexts.

"Make the game worth playing" is ensuring "immediately meaningful active engagement.

"Work on the hard parts" is isolating and practicing skills and focusing on conceptually difficult knowledge (but integrating them as quickly as possible into the whole).

"Play out of town" is promoting transfer by encouraging reflective abstraction and simulating diverse applications of knowledge and skill, as well as making connections to prior knowledge.

"Uncover the hidden game" is paying attention to the processes of inquiry, thinking and problem-solving that are beneath the surface of student work.

"Learn from the team" is paying attention to the sociocultural context through various group learning strategies.

"Learn the game of learning" is promoting self-direction.