Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation Find a Home in Louisiana

Image by Woodley Wonderworks

On July 9, I wrote about the Imagination, Creativity and Innovation (ICI) Summer Institute, a professional development event for Louisiana teachers that took place in June and was hosted by the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development/Division of the Arts. The state has now announced, to my delight, that it will pilot its ICI Initiative—“developed to nurture creativity and advance 21st-century skills in every learner through an arts-integrated education”—in eight schools, starting this 2010-2011 school year. This initiative was born as a response to “Act 175,” a bill the Louisiana Legislature passed in 2007 to create a mandate for arts education. The press release announcing the new pilot program cites the positive outcomes in other states that have integrated the arts into classrooms: “increased student achievement, increased attendance by students and staff, increased rates of retention, improved school climate, greater parent participation, and building a sense of community around the school.” Indeed, Lincoln Center Institute has seen many studies that confirm these claims (including The Center for Arts Education’s “Staying in School,” which focuses on New York City high schools and which I blogged about back in November 2009). Another exciting aspect of Louisiana’s plan is that students will encounter new artistic disciplines each year, all of which will be incorporated into their language arts curriculum. Finally, in keeping with LCI’s belief in a balance between imaginative learning and accountability, “outcomes” will be “linked to state and national standards.” I can’t wait to see what happens here!

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News from New Orleans

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Image by Martin Haase*

I’m pleased to see that the ICI Continuum concept (imagination –> creativity –> innovation), which is central to my and Eric Liu’s book Imagination First (unsurprisingly so, since it is at the center of LCI’s teaching-for-imagination methodology), has popped up yet again—this time in Louisiana. The Town Talk reports that state educators assembled at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts on June 28 for the Imagination, Creativity, and Innovation (ICI) Summer Institute. This four-day professional development event, conceived and coordinated by KIDsmART of New Orleans and sponsored by the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, gave K-4 educators the opportunity to receive training in arts integration methods from consultants and arts teachers. Dana LaFonta, executive director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts, makes remarks in the article that strongly echo LCI’s beliefs: in today’s global economy, “arts education develops skills for the 21st century: creative thinking, problem solving, individual responsibility and teamwork.” Add imagination to the list; better yet, put it at the head of that list. Pleasant as it is to find the ICI formula being invoked in public discourse, it’s even more satisfying to know that Louisiana educators are fostering in students the capacities necessary for workforce success—and that state government is supporting the effort.

*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

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