As a practitioner, I have often taken quality, engagement and partnership for granted: they are a given. How could you live without any of them?
In fact, none of these factors exist without the other. Think about it. Think about how life would be…
I know that I am expanding the definitions in my head. I am not just talking about partnership of organizations here but individuals; such as teacher to student or the partnership a person has with their instrument, writing pen, script, or experiment.
I am talking about life with or without connection of self to others. I am not sure how quality of any level can exist without connection.
WOW, what an “AHA!” moment I just had because that is what we ask hundreds of thousands of students to do every day in the classrooms across this country.
Can we stop asking WHY students are dropping out?
I mean, don’t we know why they are BORED, feel unengaged, and often have no connection to either their instructor or anyone else.
They feel bullied and abused by the very system that is suppose to develop and applaud their strengths, challenge their weaknesses into strengths, and provide them with social meaning and support.
My head spins with all the research and terminology bantered around. I am exhausted with frustration when I read the latest white paper or assessment findings that only reinforce findings of 30 years ago. Can we just move it forward?
What I know is this as a practitioner, students are asking the same questions as they stare at me and meet them for the first time.
- Is this person going to be interesting? (aka fun or bore me to tears?)
- Do they know anything worth knowing?
If you pass on the first two questions the following occur:
- Is this teacher going to talk to me or at me?
- Do I get to have an opinion?
- Do I have an opinion?
As the class emerges and the weeks roll by, the students are assessed; someone assesses the teacher to determine if ‘quality’ learning or instruction took place. The cycle of the outdated system begins, all too often resulting in disconnection and oppression.
Quality results are not that quickly to come by. Only over several courses and maybe years later, when a student is given time to assimilate the information into their own life, their universe of knowledge only then will quality occur.
Teachers are responsible for planting ‘quality’ seeds. Depending on the lesson, the plant comes years later.
These are the rules I follow to ensure quality instruction
- Be interesting, fun, organized, and know and enjoy your subject
- Present problems and dialogue with your students to find ‘their’ solutions
- Risk and then risk again
- Look at what you have done and start all over
Why does arts education in all its disciplines, including integration and infusion, work? Because it innately does all of the above and it does it in truth and kids connect to truth, they seek truth.
When I read all the research and filter all the information it comes down to one thing for me. The creative/artistic process is the answer.
Call it inquiry or scientific method if you wish. But it demands quality, it demands engagement and it demands partnership. The creative process brings classrooms back to life and back to giving life.
I say put teaching artists in all classrooms and subjects—turn on the creative process in all educators. The educators I know are screaming for this support.
If we want creative, confident, cooperative, and competent graduates we need to stop oppressing our teachers and give them the support and infrastructure they need to be creative.