Lincoln Center Institute: Promoting Individuality and Community through the Arts

Photo by Iñaki Vinaixa

It was once proposed, by someone who liked our work, that it was Lincoln Center Institute’s (LCI’s) mission to “build bridges between art and life so that children may learn to see the world transformed by the artist’s vision.”

Very close, but… There is danger incipient in that statement that the students will only see an artist’s point of view. What’s missing is the students’ contribution in the process; what’s missing is the act of free will.

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Changes in the Education Systems of East Asian Countries Look to the West

Image by David Woo*

Success carries its own need for change

Since World War II, East Asia has had the fastest-growing economy in the world. Japan was rapidly joined by China, Singapore, South Korea, and other nations seemingly swept along by each other’s successes in the marketplace.

From the beginning of its post-war ascent, East Asia has made education a priority. Now, the face of its education is changing. While this is much less debated than the economy, it is certain to have a profound effect on East Asian rapport with the West.

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The Imagination Network

Image by Jane Hoffer

What do Disney, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), and the U.S. Army have in common? Representatives from all three organizations appeared at America’s Imagination Summit, the education event that Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) hosted in New York City this past July. Their presence was not arbitrary; rather, I believe that the dynamic intersection of such diverse influencers can lead to change in our country’s schools.

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Technology and the Arts: Can They Play Well Together?

The impact of technology on the arts has been a matter of debate at least since we had to be reminded to turn off our cell phones in performance halls.

At Lincoln Center Institute (LCI), we always prided ourselves on espousing the latest technology, but we also insisted on engagements with live performances. This duality was not easy to maintain, especially in a frosty economic climate, and, early on, technology came to the rescue in the form of video. After the students have attended a performance, they need something that will stay with them and be available as long as they study the subject: video allowed us to bring storytellers, chamber ensembles, and Shakespeare to classrooms where being stranded without technology would have meant being stranded without art.

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Imagination: The Greatest Problem Solver

Image by IICD*

When hurricane Irene hit, we instinctively looked to the individuals and organizations whom we admire for their imaginative strength to do something practical, something that would instantly come to the aid of those in need, without speeches, without philosophical observations, without ideological investment in the future. Something practical—now.

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Imagination Abroad

While Lincoln Center Institute’s advocacy on behalf of imagination, creativity, and innovation in education and all aspects of life and work constantly gains new ground in the U.S., we are acutely aware that there are many parts of the world where our ideology has not yet made inroads. Since a part of our vision is determinedly global, as we believe that imaginative education must nurture a deep understanding of diverse cultures, it is encouraging to know that we’re by no means alone.

In July, as LCI readied for its own American Imagination Summit, GFEN held a series of nationwide conferences with the theme “For an Other Education.” Promising—but, ask you, what is GFEN?

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Good Sportsmanship—Win to Win

racquetball equipment

Image by exfordy*

An enhanced edition of Imagination First, the book I wrote with Eric Liu in 2009, was published in paperback on April 26th. Watching it go out into the world a second time has prompted me to revisit the question: what kind of impact would I like the book to have?

A brief, breezy personal anecdote will illustrate the more serious point I want to reach. I used to play racquetball on a regular basis with two friends, a Ph.D. in psychology and an attorney. The psychologist’s strategy—which may or may not have had to do with his profession—was invariably to try to psyche his opponents out and make us play below our usual level. But when I competed against Joe, the attorney, he played with a healthy intensity that drove me to play better—which then led him to play even better. We pushed each other to improve our games, and no matter who won, that always felt pretty good. Continue reading