Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Natural Connection between the Arts and Technology

ASCD practically researches ancient history with this post today:

All too often, arts education is regarded as a whimsical activity rather than a serious academic subject. In the December 1987/January 1988 issue of Educational Leadership, former U.S. Commissioner of Education and President of the Carnegie Foundation Ernest Boyer argues that the arts should be considered in both an intellectual and imaginative context.

I love working in the Department of Fine Arts. I've got a little desk in the television studio's control room littered with computer paraphernalia and a small collection of jazz cds; I teach Art History and a course on Digital Audio Production; and I help maintain a lab of Macs including some in the hall where we project student work.

To me, the Fine Arts -- especially in an academic context -- are all about problem solving. To 'make' something is to make a series of decisions. In almost no other discipline is the line between 'getting it' and 'not getting it' so clear. Either you've learned how to make a pot or you haven't. Either you can edit a video or you can't. Everything else is a matter of style and character.

And that's why it's so invigorating to teach. Because, in a way, you get the basic stuff out of the way early. What's left is the real stuff of the soul.

I would also say that in no other department is technology so naturally intertwined with our everyday work. As I write this, the student TV crew is preparing a live production. It's all a blur of kids hurrying about plotting the digital mixers, switchers, multi-monitor set-ups... let alone setting up the cameras, lighting rigs, and everything else. Across the hall, the drawing teacher is projecting enlarged digital versions of classwork for crit. Next door, a dozen students are busy laying out the school newspaper in digital format. My class is down the hall working on a collaborative blog project that I'm monitoring from over here in my office.

More and more, the arts and technology are being merged in completely naturally and beneficial ways. That's the way it should be.

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