Tag Archives: arts education

Generation Nexus: How CAN we fund the skills our future leaders will need?

By Trisha Pancio Mead

Self-confidence. Poise. Complex pattern recognition. Spatial relationships. Symmetry and paradox. Good design. Leadership. Collaborative, deadline-driven, results-oriented cooperative achievement. Proportion. Scale. Balance. Discipline. Persuasiveness. Empathy. And yes, innovation.

Are these values and skill sets that we want instilled in the next generation? The generation, let’s remember, that will ultimately be responsible for running the organizations, government entities and private businesses that are the backbone of Portland’s economy?

Science meets art: Woman teaching Euclidean geometry in 14th century painting. 1309 - 1316, France;The British LibraryOr, let’s get even more pragmatic here: What percentage of our future workforce would we like to see have a high school diploma? And is it worth $35 a year to ensure that, not only do more of Portland’s students graduate, they also graduate with self-confidence, discipline, empathy and the capacity for innovation?

Because, in its simplest terms, the funding mechanism proposed by the Creative Advocacy Network is designed to do exactly that: restore arts and music instruction and increase access to arts related experiences throughout Portland. On Saturday The Oregonian’s editorial board dismissed the proposal, arguing that art and music “are low priorities.” Oregon Arts Watch founder and editor Barry Johnson quickly filed this rebuttal, and Niel DePonte –  Oregon Symphony percussionist, music director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, Grammy nominee, founder/president of Metro Arts, Inc. – followed with this rebuttal printed in The Oregonian’s opinion section.

Why, in spite of The Oregonian’s objections, is this initiative crucial?

Continue reading Generation Nexus: How CAN we fund the skills our future leaders will need?

Scatter, the new generation: On the right-brain revolution

The thing about pep rallies is, sometimes there really is something to cheer about. So it was Thursday night inside the Dolores Winningstad Theatre in downtown Portland, where a group no longer called Arts Partners gathered much of the local arts mob for a rebranding celebration — from now on, thanks to the Portland firm North, Arts Partners is The Right Brain Initiative.

What’s that mean?

For one thing, you’re going to have to finally get that right brain/left brain thing straight in your mind: left brain analytical, right brain intuitive. You can color-code it if that helps.

More importantly, it means that after many years of America’s public schools being pushed further and further into a “back to the basics” position that all too often amounts to deadening drudgery, creative thinking is pushing back. And considering the economic, cultural and environmental challenges of the 21st century, it’s pushing back just in time.

The RBI, which has been spearheaded by the Regional Arts & Cultural Council but has had lots of vital input from many other organizations and individuals (including some local government grants), has set itself a noble if daunting task — to incorporate arts programs “into the education of every K-8 student in the Portland metropolitan region’s school districts.” And the goal has a good kick-start. Beginning this winter, 20 schools will give the idea a test drive — two in the Gresham-Barlow district, six in North Clackamas, four in Hillsboro and eight in the Portland district. Programs will be put in place by Young Audiences of Oregon and Southwest Washington, which has many years’ experience bringing arts events into public schools.

Some good old-fashioned left-brain questions remain to be asked, and a lot of tough left-brain work needs to be done to bring this thing on-line. The point, after all, isn’t to kick analytical thinking out of the schools and substitute it with daydreams, but to teach kids how to fuse their thinking and use their whole brains: analysis and imagination working together. How do we learn? What is the purpose of learning? How do we engage our students in the excitement of discovery? How do we teach them to survive and thrive in a 21st century that demands adaptability and suppleness of thought?

Continue reading Scatter, the new generation: On the right-brain revolution