“The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.”
–President Barack Obama
There’s a lot of talk about keeping art in the schools. But what’s the magic to make that happen? Here’s an idea.
Yesterday evening, I attended a discussion session hosted by the Beaverton Schools. The Superintendent, Jeff Rose, facilitated the event which was a high-level working session to try to help the district prioritize the goals.
Our task, as parents in groups of six, was to help brainstorm and answer questions such as – If success is a goal for the district, what does success look like? And, how should the district foster innovation? What is equity?
It was a good, if fairly typical meeting. The district facilitated, the parents discussed, we gave recommendations, and the results will be published in a few months. Ok, fine. Orchestrated well, good participation, but nothing I’ve written so far probably is out of the ordinary for any parent or teacher.
However, what really caught my attention, was the additional resource they brought in to help capture all the thoughts bandied about throughout the evening.
A graphics facilitator.
Nitya was her name, and as we talked, discussed, and recorded ideas with words, she recorded them with pictures, graphics, along with words. The result is the mural, designed in real-time, in the pictures below. It not only was a good idea, but I thought the end product was quite well done. It takes talent to pull something like that together on the fly, and Nitya certainly has talent.
But it also takes a few more things – initiative, creativity, and courage.
- Initiative – It took initiative for someone to step up and say “Let’s put an artist in a school district meeting so we can look at ideas in a new way.
- Creativity – Ideas are pretty two dimensional when only spoken and written. Putting them in graphics form adds a new dimension.
- Courage – Taking an out-of-the-box idea without an immediately measurable result, implementing it, and putting an artist in charge says, at least to me, that arts are important, and we’re going to try to incorporate them into ordinary events in new ways.
The takeaway is this – if arts will ever be more than the poor step sister to the glamor subjects in the schools, they need to be brought into the lives of all parties involved with schools – teachers, students, admins, parents, businesses, and community members.
And we, as the above-mentioned vested parties, need to do more than say we want more arts for our kids. We need to become a part of the solution by supporting innovation even when it seems out-of-place, by actively participating in the creation of art, and having patience when the arts don’t always have testable results.
If more time for art in school is the goal, then we need to allocate more personal time to bring arts into every aspect of our kids’ education.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Participated in a Beaverton School District planning session. It was an artistic endeavor.