Arts in Education Week

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Image by Nancy Bareis

Did you know that the week of September 12-18, 2010, is Arts in Education Week across the country? The U.S. House of Representatives designated it as such on July 26, 2010, by passing H.Con.Res. 275, which was authored by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) and supported by veteran actress Carol Channing. Here are a few brief excerpts from the resolution that affirm some of the tenets of Lincoln Center Institute’s philosophy of imaginative teaching and learning through guided study of artworks:

“arts education … is … an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students”;

“arts education enables students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, imagination and creativity”;

“as the Nation works to strengthen its foothold in the 21st century global economy, the arts equip students with a creative, competitive edge.”

How exciting it is to see Congress getting behind these ideas! But, you may ask, how does one go about celebrating Arts in Education Week? The nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts offers some helpful suggestions on their Web site. One can: invite elected officials to visit classrooms in which the arts are integrated, plan an event in appreciation of the arts in education, spread the word on social networking sites, submit a letter to a local newspaper, ask elected officials to declare Arts in Education Week in one’s city or state—the list goes on. One can also participate from September 13-17 in a blog salon here. In addition to being thrilled by the federal government’s tribute to the field in which LCI works, I’m also glad to see further recognition (in H.Con.Res. 275) of the critical connection between the arts, education, imagination, and 21st-century economic success.

Sea of Dreams

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Image by SSgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr. (USAF)

“I’m a guy that’s in love with ‘What if.’” No, that quote didn’t come from me or from Eric Liu, with whom I wrote Imagination First, although we do argue in the book that the words “what if” are “the key to successfully performing the experiment called being human” (33). The hopeful and open-minded sentence was spoken by Oscar-winner Kevin Costner on June 9 as he testified before the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee about devices that his company, Ocean Therapy Solutions, has developed for cleaning up oil spills. According to the firm’s Web site, Costner has been investing in related research for the past 15 years; the Daily News reports that the actor told Congress he has spent over $20 million along the way. A Hollywood screen star devoting time and funds to a personal project aimed at solving one of our most dire environmental problems? Irrepressible imagination is clearly at work here. Costner’s imaginative vision may soon become a high-profile reality when BP, which the Daily News says has bought 32 of Ocean Therapy Solutions’ machines, tests them out before possibly using them in the Gulf of Mexico. To watch Costner’s recent testimony, click on this link.

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