SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2009

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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All Levels Wait! Wait! I Have an Idea! Marcia Hirst and Dianne Cinkovich M any of the most amazing books I have ever read literally found me, rather than me finding them. Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind is one of those books. It appeared to me, on the shelf, at one of my local bookstores. I will admit that I am a person who judges a book by its cover, and the cover of Pink's book immediately caught my attention. Reading Pink's book helped me weave together the vague threads of uneasiness that I had been sensing about my students' lack of creativity. Dan Pink, Thomas Friedman, Jeanine Ouellette, Sir Ken Robinson, and many others have warned the world about this problem: "The applied creative thinking process can help people identify challenges and problems, come up with new ideas and solutions, and produce creative ways of implementing those solutions. These are among the most important skills for competing in the global 'new economy' and for solving social challenges" (Dahlberg, July 18, 2008). Experts in the field prophesied this lack of innovative thinking in students. Pursuing the Problem know what they "are supposed to do" The next week, when I met for cofinhibits their ability to seek other fee with my colleague, Dianne, I was solutions. Students are uncomfortcarrying A Whole New Mind, and able thinking for themselves, running she was carrying Thomas Friedman's with a hunch, or figuring it out. The World Is Flat. We were having the same ideas! Our conversation that Our students prefer the easily day began our search for information attained. While we show more than about the vast topic of creativity and one sample of student and master our students' futures. Since then, works when presenting a new assignwe have continued to share our latment to students, many of them est findings, simply copy thoughts, and Without authentic experiences, the example or insights. This make insignifiour students have nothing to say cant changes to pursuit is in that has not already been stated. make it their response to our gut feelown. They are ing that something is different about satisfied that they have done what our art students these days. It isn't a was expected of them. Not many studifference we can put our fingers on, dents consider solving the problem just the perception that something is any way other than the sample. They changing in the student population. see the example as their goal rather than their inspiration. Observations We perceive a decline in students' Our students lack authentic experiabilities to innovate, to invent, and to ence. Their heroes and subjects are create. Our observations include the defined by their passive existence in following: front of a television, at the helm of a video game controller, or in front of a Students do not want to take risks. computer screen. Viewing virtual and Our students' excessive need to Continued on page 45. schoolartsonline.com >YZVa[dgVaa V\Zh!VW^a^i^ZhVcY Vgi^hi^XhinaZh 33 Continued from page 33. digital images from the mass media forms the majority of their perceptions. They are content to accept other artists' interpretations of reality through pop images and commercial culture. They do this rather than observing, interpreting, and expressing their private and personal responses to the world around them. Our students have limited imagination. Imagination is not merely the domain of arts classrooms and artists; it is a fundamental human urge that taps into our capacity to create and our desire to express ourselves. We watch as our students struggle to visualize, to brainstorm, to laterally think in order to create original and authentic art, even when presented with structured learning problems. They do not instinctively ponder unknown solutions to problems. Inspiring Authentic Experiences The above observations present a picture of students who cannot effectively communicate the human experience. Without authentic experiences, our students have nothing to say that has not already been stated. How can they offer a visual response to the world around them when their participation is limited to predigested images, music, and movement? While these are critical issues in our classrooms, they are also perilous characteristics for society to possess. Who will be the innovators and creative thinkers who will help us find the answers to tomorrow's questions? We believe that fostering + >cig^\j^c\ EViiZgch HXgViX]"6gi EViiZgcEVeZg ® ® HXgViX]i]ZWaVX`GZkZVaDE"6GIeViiZgch 8gZViZi]Z^aajh^dcd[bdkZbZciVcYY^bZch^dc Scratch-Art Co., Inc. P.O. Box 303 Avon, MA 02322 Ph: 508-583-8085 800-377-9003 Fx: 508-583-8091 scratchart.com Circle No. 235 on Reader's Service Card creativity is critical for constructive social development. What can we, as art educators, do to alleviate these declining cultural traits? You can see our Creativity Calisthenics online at www.schoolartsonline. Marcia Hirst teaches art at Bloomington High School in Bloomington, Illinois. HirstM@district87.org Dianne Cinkovich teaches art at Bloomington Junior High in Bloomington, Illinois. cinkovichb@district87.org Reference Dahlberg, Steven. "Applied Imagination." July 18, 2008. appliedimagination.blogspot.com/2008/05/artseducation-debate-needs-to-rise-to. html#links schoolartsonline.com 45

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