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!

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

Notes from an Imagination Advocate, Part Three

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Image by muellermartin*

Coming of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I occasionally got the impression that certain members of the anti-establishment community thought that they were the first people ever to protest a government, and that their methods were utterly unique and had no historical precedent. In retrospect, I think some of the radical movements of the time might have met with greater success had they been more conscious of the continua of which they were a part. When you’re deeply involved with a set of ideas, it’s important to know not only where you stand, but also who came before you and who else is doing what you’re doing. I’m speaking to myself and my colleagues at Lincoln Center Institute now, and to all educators who support our work. What can we do better? Continue reading

For a Limited Time Only: “Fleeting Youth, Fading Creativity”

During the 19th century, mathematician Adolphe Quetelet documented the waxing and waning of productivity among playwrights. Contemporary research confirms and extends Quetelet’s “inverted U curve” theory. For example, UC-Davis psychologist Dean Simonton argues that, after young professionals—who start out willing and eager for novelty—spend a few years immersed in the conventions of their fields, their work begins to tend toward “the same-old, same-old.” And research also tells us that it is becoming less and less likely for people in professions dependent on creativity—for example scientists and artists—to receive significant institutional and economic support early in their careers. What happens when the policies of “mature” institutions discourage innovative thinking? Author Jonah Lehrer discusses these trends and highlights a number of exciting programs that would seem to counter them in a Wall Street Journal article called “Fleeting Youth, Fading Creativity.” But hurry! Time for viewing Lehrer’s article is truly fleeting—this link will only function through Saturday, February 27th.

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Create to Graduate

graduation cake

Image by CarbonNYC*

For anyone interested in the work of LCI, we present some exciting news: The Center for Arts Education (CAE) has just released “Staying in School,” a groundbreaking report that is the first ever to examine the link between arts education and high school graduation rates in New York City public schools. Data collected by the NYC Department Of Education from more than 200 schools over two years tells us that those “in the top third in graduation rates offered their students the most access to arts education and the most resources that support arts education” (2). What accounts for the connection? By sparking students’ imaginations, by giving them means to express themselves, by leading them into creative collaboration with their peers, the arts engage young people who might otherwise become drop-out statistics. The report concludes helpfully with several positive policy recommendations, including expanded course offerings in the arts, the hiring of certified arts teachers, and the provision of ample classroom space for arts instruction (20-21). We at LCI applaud the exhaustive research and analysis undertaken by CAE, an organization that has served the children of NYC since 1996. The writing (or painting or acting or dancing or music) is on the wall: schools—not just here, but across the country—must integrate the arts into their curricula if we are to end “the national graduation crisis” (5) once and for all.

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

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