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This is a review of The Organized Mind, by Daniel J. Levitin.

The problem with this book is that the author has an extremely limited and mechanistic notion of how our minds work.

You assume that this book will help you to deal with the complexity and volume of information, stimuli, expectations, tasks that can feel overwhelming, but it is actually more like a collection of magazine articles on how to organize information, and not how to “organize” your mind in any way to limit, or set priorities on the amount of “information” you should be organizing in the first place.

The problem is that our minds do not simply process information, like computers. We are social creatures, we are cultural creatures, we have highly sensitive psychological and emotional processing, and this book leaves all that out.

If we are feeling overwhelmed by information, the solution is not more information, on how to categorize it.

The only useful thing in this book are his tips (which are straight from airport how-to-organize books), which boil down to, write things down and organize your home and office so you can find things easily. The one thing I found useful is how switching from one task to another, or making decisions on what to keep and what to throw away, takes a lot of mental effort, so it’s better to keep on one task at at time.

Some of his tips are goofy – like, in the last chapter, the numbering system for interstate highways, such as “One- and two-digit highway numbers less than 100 identify major routes that cross state lines,” that will supposedly help you navigate (p 371).

He also devotes quite a bit of space to reasoning errors, where we make decisions that seem rational but are actually based on a misperception of the facts, all of which I’ve read elsewhere. He also has a lot of household organizing tips that are not going to be worthwhile for most people, and are found in books on organizing your home or office, if that’s what you want.

Because this book was written when it was, the issue of electronic information is huge. There is no way to deal with all the information we are confronted with now. You have to step back and think about how to limit it, without letting others limit it for you – as he does, when he enthuses about Reddit.

His understanding is demonstrated in his description of the rise of civilization, stating that all humans did was “procreate and survive” until 10,000 years ago, and that literature arose from accounting (p 13), because writing did. Literature is much older, from ancient oral traditions that are essential to our humanity. To me, this is the interesting question: before writing, for most of human time, we kept all we needed in our minds. So, why not look to art, to literature, to non-literate cultures? To truly “organize our minds.”

Another mistake is when he states that new knowledge can stave off Alzheimer’s disease (p 19). No, not new information – new ways of thinking, new kinds of activities. Learning more facts in some area you are already familiar with does nothing, you have to learn a whole new thing, like ping pong or music or social dancing.

He does touch on the human element in how we think, but barely, and it is not coherent. We function well when we feel like we matter, that we have some control over our lives, that others think highly of us. So human relationships and leadership that empowers members of the group are more critical than your filing system, but he calls this “communications (and) competent and ethically-based authority,” as if it’s one more system for organizing a company or the Army; even though his examples of success actually involve giving authority and autonomy to those at lower levels.

I compulsively read this entire book, because it was intriguing to me how he talks about “the organized mind” as if it is simply information management. This is not the only author I’ve read with this limited approach to success. It’s been helpful to me to define what it is that’s missing in this approach, to define what it is that really is at play, in people or organizations that function well. I believe those elements are going to be defined through the exposition of more and more subtle and sophisticated cognitive science, coming full circle to what great artists and leaders have understood and communicated since humans became human.

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What is Common Core?

The Common Core State Standards are lists of what students should be able to do, in each grade from kindergarten to 12th grade, in English and Math. They are endorsed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, but privately funded and developed. Released in 2010, they have been adopted by 48 states.

While consistent standards is a good idea, the Common Core State Standards are not very well done, in English or in Math. The authors were not experts in education, wrote them in only six months, the standards were never field tested, and there is no mechanism for fixing various problems with them. But, they are no worse than most previous standards.

The problem is that they are part of “standards-based reform,” an approach to education based on high-stakes standardized testing. In fact, 14 of the 24 Common Core authors are from standardized testing organizations.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act, in force since 2002, made federal funding contingent on raising test scores every year, for a 100% pass rate in 2014.

In order to get a waiver (and federal funding), 40 states, including Alaska, had to sign on to the Common Core State Standards; more teacher evaluations; more charter schools; and new, harder tests, that must be taken electronically.

According to our district superintendent, the Sitka School District is looking at spending 1.6 million dollars for these mandates in the waiver: new curriculum, hiring extra personnel for teacher evaluation, and equipment for the online testing. The state of Alaska paid $25 million dollars last summer, for the new tests.

The waiver requires that by 2017 half of a teacher’s evaulation be based on students’ test scores, even though the teacher’s influence on student test scores – from 1 to 14% – is so small it can’t be separated from other factors. Why would we create such an incentive for teachers to focus on test scores, and to avoid low-performing students?

A study by the Carnegie Corporation predicts that the new, harder, Common Core tests will double the high school drop out rate. And, the new tests have to be taken on line, which has resulted in expense and logistical problems.

We already know that high-stakes standardized testing does not improve education, and there is no reason to think that harder tests, new standards, or teacher evaluation will do anything, either.

So why are we doing what doesn’t work?

Unfortunately, standards-based reform has been the American approach to education for 30 years. It is based on an obsolete model of learning: that education is the passive transfer of information, so the teacher just has to know the material, nothing more.

But a good teacher is not an information delivery system – she is more like a coach. Think about the great teachers you have had. Even if it’s the state capitals, or biology, it takes a good teacher to help kids get it. A good teacher has a fairly sophisticated set of leadership, psychology, and people skills, in addition to a mastery of her subject.

Standards-based reform does not expect – or allow – teachers to develop these skills. It is an attempt to fix education from the top down, without addressing the way learning actually works. That is why standards-based reform, educational technology, and MOOCs, among other initiatives, have been failures.

So why is it being promoted at every level of public education? Some is because teachers, as a class, have never had much status in America. Some of it is a sincere belief that this approach could work: Bill Gates has put hundreds of millions of dollars into developing and promoting Common Core State Standards, in the stated belief that the market can fix education: with common standards, industry can compete to create the best products.

Indeed, standards-based reform is very good for business: the K-12 ed tech market was $8.4 billion in 2014, up from 7.9 billion just the year before. Charter school companies, consultants, and hardware suppliers also make healthy profits.

Since we are up against an entrenched paradigm, and substantial commercial interests, what can we do at the local level? We can ask for evidence that what we spend will improve education. Testing does not improve education. Small class size in early elementary, on the other hand, is proven to result in higher graduation rates.We can encourage our district to involve the teacher workforce in designing improvements.

As education scholar Dr. Yang Zhao said in his talk, there are models everywhere, around the world, around the country, here in Sitka, for programs that work. We can just copy what works, whether it’s integrating art, or the way a particular teacher gets kids excited about algebra.

What if it’s the law, as it is, to spend our money on more teacher evaluations, new tests, new, unproven curriculum? Well, last I checked, this is a democracy. We can stand with our districts to press the legislature, the state board of education, and our Congress to roll back the focus on testing.

The Common Core State Standards could serve, for now, as a minimum, with modifications for their documented deficiencies. There is no reason to get new curriculum that is “aligned.” For one thing, the new standards are not that different from the old ones. But the main reason is that the Common Core State Standards were written expressly as a template for standardized tests, and the last thing we should be doing is desigining curriculum around tests. That is the heart of the problem with standards-based reform.

If you just have to test, first figure out why. If it’s to make sure a school is good, you certainly don’t have to test every kid, every year. Standardized tests provide no information a teacher can’t get (and doesn’t already have) using such tools as the “quiz” and “class assignments.”

Instead we can build on existing curriculum, and improve it based on sound teaching practice – integrating the arts, field trips, inquiry, and science – none of which is in the Common Core.

We need standards, and evaluation, that are based on what we really believe students should be able to do, not going by what some small D.C. testing group decided.

We can focus on teaching as the highly skilled craft it can and should be. Not preparing kids for taking a test, but preparing them for life and citizenship, through an education rich in content, that fosters a love of learning.

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October 17 2014 Literature Circle 7th grade #2

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Click here for this material as a pdf file: 2 Huck handout 2

You can’t get around Mark Twain’s use of the N-word. Here is an interesting article about how one teacher approached the topic in her classroom.

Rebecca_poulson@hotmail.com 747-3448

This week, read chapters 17-30, and write a paragraph, based on the discussion or your own ideas. Mark parts (by noting page numbers in your notebook) that stand out.

Discussion: today we shared our research into:

Mark Twain’s biography and dates

Jim Crow laws

The Civil War (overview, dates)

history of banning of the book

log rafts and steamboats – economy of the Mississippi River in 1840

slavery in the American south before the Civil War

a map of the Mississippi River from around this time – it can be a print out or in a book or hand drawn – from Hannibal, Missouri to the Louisiana border

the picaresque novel – what it is, some examples

what kind of clothes did people wear in that place and time (Mississippi River around 1840)

public education in this place and time

Then we went briefly over the action so far, though I thought we had 20 minutes more than we really did.

Things in the book, some things we talked about:

What a bloody cataclysm the Civil War was, and the assassination of Lincoln, how the Civil War and the abolition of slavery might have affected Mark Twain’s view of antebellum (pre-Civil War) south of his youth

1840 a time of westward growth for the US

How some people were ok with slavery

Tom’s fantasies – Tom is considered “smart” and seems to be rich compared to others in the town, but seems kind of dangerous

Huck’s intelligence – he is a very skilled liar, and faking his own death is expertly done, but considers himself less intelligent than Tom Sawyer

being free on the river – how easy it must have been to “borrow” food, easy to live

The author does not seem to think much of Christians trying to reform others

Already twice Huck’s been nearly killed

Rank some of the characters on a scale of good to evil – is his father just a loser? or evil? the robbers? Miss Watson?

How the woman he tries to fool into thinking he’s a girl sees through it, but then makes up her own story for him

Already Huck’s played several mean tricks on Jim

Huck’s and Jim’s superstitions

The book is a picaresque novel, where the action is a series of adventures as the hero moves through space and time. One thing we might write about, after we finish reading the book, is how a particular adventure fits into the book.

For the middle third of the book, all of the above and:

Are some parts just for humor, to lighten it up, and not part of the overall thrust of the book?

Death – tally up the people Huck sees die, and the deaths that occur he doesn’t witness

Lies

Foolishness

Evil and cruelty

Conscience/morality – how Huck is developing, or is he.

Goodness

The places, societies, worlds? of each adventure

How does this section compare to the first

Women

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October 10 2014 Literature Circle 7th grade #1

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Click here for this material as a pdf file: 1 Huck handout 1.

This week, read chapters 1-16 – which is a third of the book. We can see if that’s too much, or about right – it’s 110 pages in my edition.

As you’re reading, use sticky notes to mark passages that stand out to you, whether because they are strong, or make you feel uncomfortable, or whatever. You can mark a few then pick the one you want to talk about.

Also, look up at least one new word and bring that in.

For next time, each person will do a little bit of research into one of the following topics (we’ll assign each person one). It does not have to be in depth, just a little to informally share with the group.

Mark Twain’s biography and dates

Jim Crow laws

The Civil War (overview, dates)

history of banning of the book

log rafts and steamboats – economy of the Mississippi River in 1840

slavery in the American south before the Civil War

bring in a map of the Mississippi River from around this time – it can be a print out or in a book or hand drawn – from Hannibal, Missouri to the Louisiana border

the picaresque novel – what it is, some examples

what kind of clothes did people wear in that place and time (Mississippi River around 1840) – if you can, bring in a book or a print out, or just describe

public education in this place and time

A few things you might notice, after you read the first part of the book:

Is Tom a psycho or what? How his fantasies of life-and-death adventures relate to Huck’s real ones

Huck’s ignorance, innocence, and intelligence

Being free on the river

Systems of belief – Christianity, superstition, Tom’s fantasy life, Huck’s

The Author’s attitude toward the various characters

Playing the trick on Jim, and the description of slave society: does it feel affectionate, or just yucky?

Huck’s knowledge of the river and the environment and his practical abilities

Excitement and danger – how does the author make things thrilling

What does Huck want/need?

How do you think it would feel to read this book if your ancestors had been slaves?

How is the way Huck is treated in the book compare to Jim’s treatment (as a character). Huck grows and changes – could Jim? Does Huck seem believable? Any of the other characters?

Notice how the author is using characters, landscape and incident to create a whole

How important are relationships in this book?

The way characters are fleshed out, the way they interact, the way relationships change (or not).

Huck’s innocent morality, compared to the morals of others in the book

The book is a picaresque novel, where the action is a series of adventures as the hero moves through space and time. One thing we might write about, after we finish reading the book, is how a particular adventure fits into the book.

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minecraft ipad

“Technology” is the educational term for Information and Communication Technology or ICT.

Here are five myths about technology in education:

Myth number one: Educational technology is always a good investment by schools; we owe it to our kids to have a lot of technology in the classroom.

Reality: some technology is useful, and other technology is not worth the time and money.

There are proven benefits from technology: student access to computers lets them write and revise, and develop their writing ability; internet access opens up the world for research. But, only if the students actually make use of the technology for that purpose. Studies  show that even computers and internet access, in and of themselves, can lower academic achievement. Still, computers and internet access are versatile. Teachers are probably more productive when they have reliable computers, networks and software. Overall, these kinds of investments probably pay off.

But some technology does not. For example, Interactive White Boards (also known by brand names Smart Boards and Promethean).

An Interactive White Board is a large touchscreen display, with a short-throw digital projector mounted on an arm at the top. These cost from a few thousand dollars to over $6000, for a six-foot-wide screen, on a wheeled, motorized mount, so it can be moved around, and up and down so children can use the touchscreen.

These were initially marketed to business in the 1990s, then as that faded, to the educational market, where they were very popular.

These devices are limited: you cannot use the touchscreen feature via other devices or software. Teachers must either find lessons on line, or create their own, which is time consuming. A multimedia projector alone, at a cost of about $400, does 99% of what these do and doesn’t take any floorspace, or training.

They are complex machines, and support will probably disappear within a few years, as the market moves on to the next educational technology gadget (tablets): Promethean share prices plunged 75% in 2012.

There have been very few scientific studies of how effective Interactive White Boards are in education. A major government-funded study (by BECTA) in the UK found no statistically-significant improvement with the use of IWBs. When they broke out their results according to ability, sex, and subject matter, there were small gains for some groups (for example, “high-performing boys in math”), losses for a few others, and no gains for most.

Robert Marzano, a popular educational presenter, did a study that found similar results – that roughly a third of the students did better, a third worse, and a third about the same, when the teacher used IWBs in the classroom. And yet, he claimed that “The study results indicated that, in general, using interactive whiteboards was associated with a 16 percentile point gain in student achievement. This means that we can expect a student at the 50th percentile in a classroom without the technology to increase to the 66th percentile in a classroom using whiteboards.” Fortunately the research was later reviewed is typical of what you’ll find on line.

When meager educational benefit is weighed against the money and time they require, it’s clear that IWBs are not a good investment.

Myth number two: Technology in the classroom prepares students for the high-tech world after graduation; youth will not be able to cope in the high-tech workplace /world unless we teach it in school.

Reality: technology in the classroom has no relationship to preparing students to master technology after graduation.

First of all what are the skills our kids will need in a rapidly-changing, technology-driven society? Most of what they must learn has not changed at all: they need to understand geography, civics, history, math, and science, and how to read and write well. But now, on top of that, kids need critical thinking skills, creativity, and to learn how to work with others.

Students must also learn how to sort through the vast amounts of information and marketing they face every day, skills called Information Literacy and Media Literacy. And, math and science are even more important than they were in the past, now that more and more jobs are in programming and development of new technology.

How does educational technology fit these educational goals? Much educational technology simply replaces the typewriter, mimeograph, and filmstrip of yesterday. Internet access, reliable computers, printers, and multimedia digital projectors are the improved versions of technology we have relied on for decades.

Most of what we think of as educational technology are the more specialized teaching aids – document cameras, Interactive White Boards, “clickers” or electronic voting devices, wii’s, and iPads and other tablet devices, and educational software and “apps.”

Do these items help our students reach 21st century goals? When employers are asked what they are looking for, number one is a work ethic (a complaint since Babylonian times), communication skills and analytical thinking. In the high tech workplace, a December Forbes Magazine article lists critical thinking, problem solving, active listening, and math, as well as programming.

When they get to the work force, will their experience using an iPad or IWB give them an advantage? Probably not. Will having learned to write well, to think, to use their heads to figure out what needs to be done, their ability in math and science, be of any use? Probably more likely – and educational technology devices are not needed for any of that.

Devices like iPads are actually harder to use than computers, for teaching vocational technology skills. It’s possible, but a struggle to do things that are easy on a computer, like creating a website or programming. Even web design is still done through code, and you’d be better off building computers and devices, doing your own programming, or troubleshooting a donated device. Ed tech devices like iPads offer no advantage.

As parents know, kids are uncanny in their ability to pick up new software and gadgets, I think we’ve all seen babies adept with iPhones. There is also the fact that any particular device or software we teach them in school will be obsolete well before they graduate.

Myth number three: Technology lets us reach students through multiple modalities; technology is interactive.

“Multiple modalities” is education jargon for the idea that we all learn differently, and some of us do better reading material, some of us by using our hands, some of us through seeing a picture.

Reality: a screen, even with sound, uses a fraction of our senses and abilities. Accessing anything via an electronic device means it is mediated, and not direct. Most children today have way too much screen time as it is, with the consequence that they don’t have the social skills, physical fitness, or ability to focus kids had just a generation ago.

How interactive is a touchscreen compared to handling bird feathers, measuring weights, negotiating with other children, going on a field trip, making music? Making anything? Going into the real world, and learning hands on how it works.

Myth number four: Children today are Digital Natives, and you have to adapt the classroom to their new learning style; technology is the paper and pencil of tomorrow; we can’t use yesterday’s tools to teach today’s skills.

Reality: Anyone who has seen a good teacher at work knows it’s not true, that kids can’t pay attention to anything that’s not digital. But even if it were – what do we do about it? Allow our kids to graduate from school, still unable to pay attention to anything that’s not spoon-fed to them digitally?

Learning might be the most rewarding thing we do, that sense of achievement,belonging, mastery, control, possibility. Children are hard-wired to learn. Yes, kids would rather play games on an iPad – but are they learning? We’re trading off short-term pleasure for lasting pleasure, in genuine learning.

Myth number five: Schools need iPads.

Reality: There is yet to be evidence iPads improve academic performance.

The advantages are hyped without letup: you can get textbooks for less cost. There is great educational software out there. They have a camera and Apple’s internet browser. It has a bright touchscreen. Kids love them.

There are enormous downsides to using ipads besides the very high cost ($500 dollars on up), including being locked in to the Apple browser and compatible websites (because it doesn’t support Flash, still used in many websites) and software. They have extremely limited connectivity. Things that are easy with computers, like hooking up to a projector or sharing files, are difficult with an iPad. And, they are fragile. You also have the built-in distraction of a device that’s built for entertainment – even adults have a hard time with their self-discipline. (In 2012 the idea of students bringing in their own phones and devices to school – “BYOT” was very trendy, but those students would have to have a lot more self control than I do.)

There are many wonderful educational apps (and of course many junky ones), but very few multimedia textbooks. The content just isn’t there yet. And when it is developed, it seems very unlikely the content publishers are going to be giving it away, and it will very likely cost as much or more than paper textbooks.

If you want digital textbooks, then look at the most effective platform, taking costs into account. Digital textbooks (ebooks) do exist, but as digital versions of textbooks, they are no more effective than the originals. So the only advantage is (slightly) lower cost, which has to be offset by the cost of the device. Another issue with any tablet or reader is compatibility.

As a computing device, you have imovie and a digital audio program (“sold separately”), but these kinds of programs are available, for free, for laptops. And the tablets have no keyboard ($70 for their small keyboard, which is not designed for serious typing, and can’t control the iPad), which takes away the biggest, and perhaps most effective use of computers in school – writing, revising and publishing, so you still need computers, as well.

Ultimately, iPads, like Interactive White Boards, are designed for consuming information, not for creating. Apple’s goal is to have the iPad be the portal for all of our entertainment – purchased through Apple-controlled websites.

The wild enthusiasm for iPads in education – how much is because they look good, and how much is because they add anything to education – especially when you compare them to things like laptops, which are much more versatile and useful?

But with any educational technology, when you look at educational technology blogs, forums, websites, you won’t see much debate over whether an IWB or tablet is a useful tool, or worth the money. The only posts I found criticizing IWBs exalted tablets. You will see a frenzy of posts about how teachers are working to figure out ways to use it in their classroom, and testimonials about how the kids love it. Given this enthusiasm by educational technology experts, it is little wonder that districts do not scrutinize these machines or ask to see evidence they work. Still, before spending millions of dollars on these devices, wouldn’t districts want evidence they work? Wouldn’t Apple benefit from a compelling study?

I was surprised to find there is no evidence they improve academic performance. One study in Auburn Maine was supposedly “finally proof” but it turned out that study had no statistically significant results – only “trends.” Most of what you’ll find are “case studies” reporting only that faculty felt kids were learning more, or that most students liked them.

Yes, kids adore iPads. But, are they learning? It’s possible there won’t ever be evidence they improve academic performance. A teacher has to plan out the year knowing what the students need to accomplish, and get them there, mastering material and skills sequentially, step by step. Programs like Khan Academy work well for some kids in math, because it is sequential and requires kids to work the problems, but don’t require an iPad.

There is a limited amount we can learn passively. We need to actively engage with content. (Think about the last educational tv program you watched, and how you felt like you were learning, and how much you retained afterward.) In theory, you could design a program or app that could do this – answer kids’ questions, get them thinking and writing. But it hasn’t happened yet.

Imagine a classroom using an app on Paul Revere’s ride. They watch animations, do puzzles and games, answer multiple choice questions. Now imagine using that same class time to see a video and graphics together; read about it; the teacher asks the kids questions, answers ones they have, and if she doesn’t have the answer, models how to find it; assigns them to research questions they have (like, why is Paul Revere so famous?), and write about it, and share their findings. Which group of kids will retain more about this period in history?

The weakness of ipads is that they are not good for engaging students with content, which is essential for learning. You could use them as part of a high quality educational program, but since they are expensive and don’t add anything, are they worth the cost? With any individual device, while the potential is there for “student-centered learning,” the reality is that you also have a lot of potential for student-centered surfing, messaging and games.

What is quality education? Small class sizes; everyone understands the goals; teachers are motivated and highly-trained: the teachers know the subject matter, are able to get the students interested in it, and move step by step, building on what the students have already mastered.

Any tool has to be chosen because it contributes to what the teacher can do. Unfortunately, often the tools seem to come first, with the teachers scrambling to figure out ways to use it.

Educational Technology is a vast and growing business. What is sad is that the marketers don’t even have to work hard, much less offer discounts, to get school districts to spend millions on expensive, unproven equipment.

“Flipped” classrooms (listening to the teacher’s lecture at home, and doing practice in school) will only widen the “digital divide” between more well-off students who have internet at home and those who don’t, who we know are already at risk for dropping out. Offering time during recess for these kids to catch up only adds to their burden.

Another issue is privacy: the free cloud-based services like Googledocs, and many free educational sites, require quite a bit of personal information in exchange. Maybe it’s worth the trade off, but it’s something we have to be aware of.

We want to graduate competent young people. Tech in the classroom can be as much a hindrance as a help; many students have way too much screen time, and way too much electronically-mediated communication in their lives already. They need knowledge and skills they aren’t getting on their own: how to communicate, create, think, solve problems.

In the end, technology is tools. Technology does have exciting potential, in being able to access lessons and information remotely, and kids can program, create movies, write and publish. We have to know what we want technology to do, and buy the gear to do that – but consider the entire school environment, make quality teaching the highest priority, and not give too much weight to gadgets.

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How is it that quality arts education works – it is almost magic how children who are usually difficult or don’t do well in school, will become engrossed, work hard, and be proud of their work. What is it, that’s different from regular school?

I think part of it is that good arts education is good education, period – children are really learning, and learning is inherently empowering.

Kids are hard-wired to learn. The trick is to get them to learn what we want them to learn.

In order to grow, try, stretch, take risks, you must have a safe environment. I believe many children are constrained by fear, that everyone will see that they are bad or stupid. A good proportion of young children have parents who are getting divorced or otherwise are unable to provide a stable, loving environment, which sets up children to be afraid they are bad. I think this is often at the root of disruptive and self-destructive behavior – trying to distract from having to perform.

Then, in school, children are tested many times a day – they are asked to perform, often material they are not ready for. State standards in Alaska say that children should learn to read in kindergarten, even though there is general acceptance that most children are not ready to read until age six – which means that while many are ready earlier,  many are not ready until age seven or later. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the amount of “assessment” that is part of the school day.

With good (arts) education, there is a safe environment, and children are not graded or judged.

With good arts or any education, students move step by step, mastering one skill before building on it.

And finally, the material is interesting, even inspiring –  material the student can master. Learning gives you a sense of control over your world. Success gives you confidence,the feeling that you matter, and can try other things that might be difficult at first.

I believe much of what is taught is not the material so much as the attitude of the teacher: a genuine interest in each student, and a passion for the material, that leads the student to want to keep learning, toward the attitude that the world is an interesting place, and that they are able to contribute to what goes on in it.

And on top of that there are the benefits of making art – personal expression. You are making your mark, affecting the world with your unique performance.

And even  beyond that, through art there is that possibility of deep communication with others – the way only art can satisfy – that connection to all the world, all times. What makes life worth living.

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