SchoolArts Magazine

February 2016

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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Visit SchoolArtsRoom.com. Follow me on I n 1972, an album was produced under the title Free to Be…You and Me. It featured songs and stories sung or told by celebri- ties of the day, including Marlo Thomas, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross, and was fol- lowed by an illustrated book. The intent was to promote values such as individual freedom, tolerance, and comfort with one's identity. The message was that children should be free to achieve whatever they want to. Maybe we need a new, contemporary version of Free to Be…You and Me now, because we seem to be facing the same challenges in our schools and in society that we faced in 1972. How do you address issues of freedom and identity in your artroom? How much freedom of choice do you provide to your students? How do you encourage them to express their individuality? An engaging concept I recently learned that you might want to consider adopting for your artroom climate is the "freedom to tinker." I discovered this idea from a blog post by Ed Felten, a profes - sor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, who I found through the Art:21 website. Though Felten is primar- ily addressing the freedom to tinker through t echnology—to understand, repair, and mod- ify its use—I believe his basic ideas adapt well t o the artroom. "Tinkering" is an engaging term that closely correlates to contemporary approaches for artistic literacy in our digital/visual age, the tech-influenced maker movement, and play-based and choice-based art education. How can you create an environment in your artroom where your students have the free- dom to tinker? E D I T O R ' S L E T T E R Nancy with Marion Martinez, an amazing "tinkerer" who makes art from recycled computer parts. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 3

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