This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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Reflections on synthesis 4/6/12

Themes from today’s meeting: I kept hearing about all the different pages that different stakeholders are on, so I’m thinking about the common themes we are all trying to read and write on those pages. For me that’s around creating curriculum and schools where different kids can enter and thrive.  For those to come to pass, we need as may points of entry as possible; we need also to be able to talk to each other across our differences of approach and job description. So if we’re all reflecting on this process, what if we each reflect in writing (briefly, 5-10 mins a week to record one small moment) and then collect those writings across many jobs and communities, for say a year, guided by some key questions, to find common themes?

Listening to the broadness of the overall idea, my brain turns to people who revolutionised the notion of school. If I remember founders of progressive and equitable education (from Froebel to Friere), I feel it must be constructivist. If I think about Deborah Meier, I think about relatively small, highly responsive communities.  If I look at Geoffrey Canada, I think about educating families intensively, beginning before children are born, but within communities of relevance.  It seems important to create supportive webs that include schools, or perhaps center around schools.

Where are the arts in all this?  Perhaps in the answer to the questions we try to ask kids and families daily: “What makes you unique?  What are your strengths?  What are your needs? How will school make you stronger, and how will you contribute to the strength of school?” Perhaps because I work with young children, I think that we must start at 5, when children still primarily express themselves physically, rhythmic-melodically, dramatically and through art media.  Our job at that point becomes to support and build on that freedom of expression.  And since teaching a Kindergartener necessarily involves singing, dancing, dramatic play, and visual representation, maybe it is at K that we can best start to build arts-integrated curriculum, and scaffold it up as we do our students.

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