Here are my learning objectives for the AAD program followed by the ones for this specific course:
Program Objectives for Marcus Renner
~ To facilitate partnerships between community arts organizations, sustainability advocates and local businesses.
~ To understand how to channel the energy generated by artists and arts organizations toward community action.
~ To understand how to negotiate the social and political issues and controversies surrounding community arts work
“Artistic and cultural capacity” – I am searching for a good way to describe, measure, and impact the ability of a community to generate their own cultural material. My research examines the idea of “re-localization” of different sectors of the economy. I am interested in what this means for the “arts and culture” sector. Non-profit arts is, by its nature, local. But how do you assess the amount of the “artistic and cultural” programming in a community that originates with local residents. Terms such as “cultural capital” are used in different ways to serve different ends. The number of trained artists in a community doesn’t capture the “informal arts” outside of a school or formal community program. I think about raising the artistic and cultural capacity of a community as a big picture goal of “arts learning,” but what does this mean, how is it done, and how can you evaluate whether or not you are successful. This encapsulates three distinct objectives: define, increase, and evaluate artistic and cultural capacity.
Define what makes arts learning different from other educational approaches – In a handbook I drafted based on my first master’s thesis on community education, I separated “artistic and cultural strategies” as distinct from “information-based” strategies and “experiential strategies” and “research-based strategies,” to name just a few of the educational approaches I described. I want to be more specific when explaining what distinguishes arts learning from other forms of learning. I also want to understand how to blend arts learning strategies into other types of education programming. A practical way to think about this question, is how one would describe an arts-based charter school.
Links between arts learning and environmental education – This is related to the previous objective. I began my career in environmental education and well-versed in various ways to approach connecting kids, teens, and adults with their local environment. I have used arts-based approaches before in many environmental lessons. Broadly, what does “arts learning” bring to environmental education (and vice versa)?
Understanding distinguishing characteristics of arts learning in different media – I imagine our discussion of arts learning will encompass the visual, performing, media, design, and literary arts. How is learning in these different media similar or different? If I’m directing an arts learning program, is it better to hire artists who can teach across different art forms or spend money on artists with depth in a particular area? I’m a writer and so am especially interested in strategies to teach writing–poetry, personal essay, fiction, plays–and how this relates to the overall arts learning field since many don’t immediately connected the teaching of writing with arts education.
Different organizational approaches for delivering arts learning – I see from the syllabus that we will examine arts learning and out of school, from the perspective of non-profit organizations and independent teaching artists. I imagine each of these delivery systems have certain advantages and disadvantages. I want to more effectively match approaches to desired outcome or impact.
Understanding the social and political issues surrounding arts learning – In 2012, at the Network of Ensemble Theater Microfest in Detroit, the group visited with an afterschool youth theater organization that had had tremendous success in getting at-risk students from various Detroit public schools into college. The main staff members were white. Most of the students were African-American or Latino. The students from their advanced performance group shared some of their theater games and got some members of the audience to participate. I was captivated by the students and the positive energy that they had for the program. Afterwards, though, I found other members of the audience were put off by the presentation and interpreted the event as the white instructors sending out students of color to do tricks in order show off how great the program was. The high standards and rules of the program set by the white instructors also rubbed people the wrong way. These are the kinds of issues that I want to understand the contours off coming out of this course.
How will you support your own learning?
For the first objective, I want to make this the subject of my research paper. I’ve collected a number of works on cultural capital, cultural mapping, and informal arts that I believe will help me make progress on the subject of “artistic and cultural capacity.” The other objectives require me to link the material in this course with previous work on environmental and community education. I have several pages of notes on art education from my previous degree that I would like to enter into Endnote so that I can bring old and new material together.
What are your challenges and strengths, as a learner, a professional, and a team member?
My challenges are the expansive nature of how I understand ideas, problems, and issues. I often need a very broad view in order to profitably move forward with research and writing. This broad view feeds interesting arguments and perspectives but practically can slow down the process for efficiently finishing assignments. I have high standards that sometimes seem too high for some people. I’ve been good in the past, however, to not let this tendency interfere while working with others. In a group, I’m good at synthesizing what others say and creating a structure that allows the group to tap the strengths of different team members. I’m organized.
What do you need to work on this term to strengthen your progress?
I need to work on finding enjoyment in the work. I typically enjoy readings and discussions, but I feel I could enjoy this all more and finish assignments with less stress. I think I need to prioritize clearly what I’m going to read for the research paper and what I’m going to leave for another time.