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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Translation and Amplification

In reflecting on the synthesis of the Map the Next 10 Years planning process posted here, and this week’s guest blogs elaborating its key points, I notice a crosscutting theme. That theme is the importance of translation and amplification.


How can we translate what matters to us; what we do well; and where we are trying to go in a way that allows us to find with others what Joe Landon refers to as “overlapping interests,” and “shared commitments?” As John Abodeely writes, when it comes to education, “thousands of people each day make decisions that impact what is taught to whom by whom and for how long,” and each of these people brings different priorities, responsibilities, and perspectives to the table. Translation is key to finding common ground within this complex picture and to forging the kinds of coalitions Abodeely suggests have impact within our messy system.

The current movement around the Common Core State Standards, which Browning Neddeau discusses, and related movements advancing the importance of deeper learning and college and career readiness, for example, represent opportunities for the arts education field to apply the power of translation. Proponents of these movements are talking about the importance of creativity, imagination, engagement, collaboration, higher-order thinking, and hands-on, student-driven, real-world, interdisciplinary learning. As a field, we have decades of experience delivering arts and arts integrated curricula that shift classroom contexts and teaching and learning to yield these outcomes. We have documented this experience through research ( and best practice. How might we now translate this knowledge to illuminate where our interests and commitments overlap with those of these other educational movements? And how might we articulate our expertise to help shape and advance these movements? (I think, for example, of the potential power of the arts education field translating what it has learned about preparing teachers to teach arts integrated curricula to inform the conversation about how to prepare teachers to facilitate deeper learning).


Key to our ability to “Build on What’s Working,” is our ability to amplify our work—to make sure that others within and outside our field hear about our best practice and the knowledge that we are developing as a field. I was struck at the meeting I attended at the Alameda County Arts Learning Alliance during its mapping process, that I had not heard of several of the arts education organizations that were sitting around the table, despite the fact that they were local and doing exemplary work. What role might each of us—as funders, policymakers, artists, educators, researchers, youth, families—play in amplifying the best practice and learning in our field? How might such amplification support our ability to connect around or own work in the fruitful ways described by Audrey Brown, or connect to the work of others in the way Carl Anthony invites in his post about the environmental justice movement?


4 Comments on “Translation and Amplification”

  1. lmusic says:

    Lauren, you have really nailed it.

    Yes, arts integration IS about deeper learning.

    and….For almost a decade, teaching artists and teachers that have been using the studio habits of mind have been naming and assessing what is core in the arts, and connecting that to what is common across the curriculum (observe: in science, express: in math, engage and persist: in history, reflect: in literature) and have developed experience and practice that can inform the implementation of new common core standards.

    But when people are saying “we need deeper learning in math”, or “we need help applying math common core standards to science”, and arts educators are saying “you need to teach more arts”, there is a disconnect.

    What if arts learning advocates tried saying instead, “We can help you deepen instruction in math, science and history,” or “We can help you implement common core standards,” or “We can help your students make their learning visible in new performance based assessments”?

    And speaking of making learning visible, what about making our work visible? It seems like that would be a strategy for what you are suggesting in…..


    Do I have that right?

  2. Mariah says:

    Chip and I really love the language employed here. Translation and amplification are key to the movement. This stretches my thinking about how to go about translating the work, articulating needs, expertise and values. It encourages me as an educator to seek more ways to amplify the dynamic work of arts integration in my/our communities.

  3. I love this language as well., which Lauren mentions above, was in part designed with translation and amplification in mind. Translation in that all of the research is written for a general audience. The jargon has been removed and research-related terms defined via pop-up definitions. Amplification in that for the first time, all the high-quality research is collected and synthesized in one place, strengthening and amplifying the findings. Where one study may not make an impact, multiple studies with similar findings on the benefits of arts learning could turn the heads of decision makers.

    I encourage anyone involved in arts education to take a minute and poke around ArtsEdSearch. You’re sure to find something that applies to your work.

    Thank you Lauren for mentioning the new resource in your thoughtful post!

  4. Rebecca says:

    Yes Lauren. I was particularly “fired up” about your amplification comment and the responsibility local arts organizations have to educate their community about what they do and the impact it has. I think this can be particularly powerful in community-building especially if organizations do this in a way that is not attached to their fundraising or audience-building initiatives. Oftentimes, the public is turned off when they are expecting to be “sold to,” but would, I suspect, be more open to simply being educated in a fun, engaging and innovative way to the amazing resources available to them right down the street.