Harvard Educational Review
  1. Spring 2013 Issue »

    Editors’ Introduction

    Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education

    Edward P. Clapp and Laura A. Edwards
    In 1991 the Harvard Educational Review presented a two-part arts education symposium (vol. 61, nos. 1 & 3) that was published the following year as Arts as Education (Goldberg & Phillips, 1992). Then, HER editors were troubled to look back on the history of our journal and find scant discussion of issues pertaining to the arts in education. Twenty years after the Arts as Education symposium, we remain troubled that the topic of arts teaching and learning has continued to remain a stranger to the pages of our journal, only rarely making an appearance in the occasional article or Book Note. While we are dismayed by this lack of focus on the arts in a generalist education journal such as our own, we wonder, Should we really be surprised by the absence of arts education content in HER? Given that our current educational landscape is so deeply fixated on standardized tests, measurable outcomes in rigid content areas, and increased “achievement” at all costs, perhaps it makes sense that the arts—though fundamental to how we make meaning of ourselves, our environments, and our sociocultural interactions—are relegated to the margins of dominant discussions on education and therefore sadly absent from HER’s pages.

    During the early months of our tenure on the Editorial Board, we looked longingly at the playful cover image of Arts as Education, “thinking of things as if they could be otherwise” (Greene, 2001, p. 116) and wondering how we might have the best impact during our brief time on the Board. Then it became clear: in order to capitalize on the wide-ranging expertise of our fellow Board members, in order to return to discussions of wonder and deep engagement in an array of learning environments, in order to reconsider the role of aesthetics in our classrooms and our communities, and in order to reignite a dialogue around access and ability for our most high-potential learners—in order to do all of that, HER would have to return to the arts.

    Concerning the importance of the arts in education, we believe our predecessors said it best:

    The arts can be, for both students and teachers, forms of expression, communication, creativity, imagination, observation, perception, and thought. They are integral to the development of cognitive skills such as listening, thinking, problem-solving, matching form to function, and decisionmaking. They inspire discipline and dedication. The arts can also open pathways toward understanding the richness of peoples and cultures that inhabit our world, particularly during this period of global change. The arts can nurture a sense of belonging, or of community; they can foster a sense of being apart, or of being an individual. The arts give rise to many voices. By acknowledging the role of the arts in our lives and in education, we acknowledge what makes individuals whole. (Bucheli M., Goldberg, & Phillips, 1991, p. 25)

    The editors of the reprint volume went on to boldly state that “the arts are an essential aspect of human development—that is, of knowing and being in the world” (Goldberg & Phillips, 1992, p. v). We couldn’t agree more. But it’s important to note that “the world” the editors described then is vastly different from the world we know now. Two decades ago, the first digital natives were just coming of age (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008), mobile phone technology was in its infancy, Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg was just about to celebrate his sixth birthday, and a young Barack Obama had only recently graduated from Harvard Law School. Suffice it to say, the world is a changed place.

    Though many of the benefits of the arts identified by our HER forebears are still applicable today, as author Jennifer S. Groff reminds us in her article “Expanding our ‘Frames’ of Mind for Education and the Arts,” the onset of the information era, the spread of globalism, and the increased ubiquity of digital and visual culture have considerably changed the ways we engage with the world. In deciding to return the arts to the pages of the Harvard Educational Review, we thought it was important not only to refocus our vision on the arts in education, but to expand our vision for the arts in education. To this end, we sought articles, reflections, and learning experiences that addressed the arts in education in the context of our ever-changing, media saturated, and visually complex world.

    In his foreword, “Exploding Parameters and an Expanded Embrace: A Proposal for the Arts in Education in the Twenty-first Century,” Steve Seidel references philosopher Maxine Greene’s (1991) lead-off essay “Texts and Margins” in the Arts as Education symposia:

    It is not uncommon for the arts to leave us somehow ill at ease, nor for them to prod us beyond acquiescence. They may, now and then move us into spaces where we can create visions of other ways of being and ponder what it might signify to realize them. To say “we” in this fashion is to suggest the existence of a community of educators committed to emancipatory pedagogy, now in the domain of the arts. Such a community would have to include in its dialogue women and men of all classes, backgrounds, colors, and religious faiths, each one free to speak from a distinctive perspective, each one reaching from that distinctive perspective towards the making of some common world. And it would have to be a community sharing unabashed love for the arts. (p. 27)

    We, too, were struck by this paragraph. First, we were drawn to Greene’s conception of “we” as the collective us that refuses to be siloed or restricted to any one demographic but that, instead, is all encompassing and, as Seidel aptly suggests, “expanding in its embrace.” Second, Greene’s provocation to “create visions of other ways of being and ponder what it might signify to realize them” touched the core of our interest in pursuing a special issue of our journal and resonated deeply with the wider history of HER, which has long been committed to content that “prod[s] us beyond acquiescence.” Inspired by these ideals, through multiple conversations with the HER Special Issue Subcommittee, the HER Editorial Board at large, and a savvy team of master’s students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Arts in Education program, we identified Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education as the title of this special issue—and the driving force behind our hunt for cutting-edge content.

    The vision we seek to expand is the greater collective consciousness of a community of people who are committed to “emancipatory pedagogy” and an “unabashed love for the arts” today, in the information era.

    In this way, Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education intends to push beyond traditional understandings of arts teaching and learning to consider how education in and through the arts best suits the sophisticated demands of today’s students within the complex social and political landscapes that they inhabit. This unique and important issue brings together the voices of practitioners, researchers, and youth who engage in innovative arts learning. In so doing, it provides a launchpad for ideas that push the boundaries of what arts education looks like (or may look like) in our current educational ecosystem. In our call for proposals, we challenged prospective authors to address the ways in which varied, high-quality arts learning experiences can be successfully implemented to drive the learning and engagement of twenty-first-century young people and adults in schools and afterschool programs, in formal and informal learning environments, and online in the digital world.

    Emphasizing the notion of Our in the title of this special issue, we opted not to curate an anthology by soliciting manuscripts from widely known scholars in the field but, instead, to allow the content of this issue to emerge organically by inviting the greater community of our readership to show us the issues and ideas pertinent to our topic that resonated with most with them. In response to our open call for proposals, more than 450 scholars, researchers, administrators, and arts education practitioners submitted proposals for our consideration—a record-setting response for any HER open call for material—and over two hundred more arts teachers and learners responded to our simple prompt—“How have the arts expanded your vision?”—by sharing stories describing their most powerful arts learning experiences.

    Proposals for Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education came from every continent in the world, save Antarctica, and on the following pages you will find authors hailing from Asia, Australia, and the Americas, as well authors who represent institutions ranging from community theaters operating out of converted barns in the United Kingdom to technical colleges in the United Arab Emirates. In total, Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education includes a staggering thirty-five pieces written or compiled by fifty-four individual authors. In the pages ahead, you will find scholarly articles that take the form of both theoretical essays and empirical research studies; reflective essays and narratives that document on-the-ground experiences of innovative arts educators, teaching artists, and administrators; and cross-generational dialogues that place arts education practitioners from different generations in conversation with one another. Of course, we felt that a special issue focused on arts education would be incomplete without stories from children, youth, and adult arts learners, so we are delighted to present a selection of poems, essays, and images from arts learners ranging in age and experience from primary school students to college undergraduates, and from working adult professionals to retirees in senior care. In this volume, you will also find a collection of Book Notes—ranging in content from hip-hop education to design thinking—that review some of the recent literature pertinent to twenty-first-century arts teaching and learning. Lastly, we’ve included an Arts Resources for Educators section—a selection of national and international professional organizations, journals, and online Web resources compiled by master’s students from the HGSE Arts in Education program.

    The essays in Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education are grouped according to themes that emerged from the diverse range of material chosen for inclusion in this issue. Perhaps the overarching theme of this issue—explicitly addressed in some pieces, implicitly suggested in others—is the need for multimodal arts learning experiences to address twenty-first-century learning objectives and environments. In keeping with this theme, contributions to this issue are not grouped by type or by arts discipline; instead, they are connected across disciplines and content areas: stories from arts learners are paired with scholarly articles, just as essays on the visual arts appear alongside those about music.

    The issue opens with “Expanding our ‘Frames’ of Mind for Education and the Arts,” a theoretical essay by Jennifer S. Groff, who aptly suggests that how we conceive of arts education, along with all other content areas of education, needs to be upgraded for the digital age. Groff grounds her argument in theories of mind, acknowledging the positive impact the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1983) has had on the field of arts education while also arguing that this popular theory has stunted the field’s growth. As an alternative, Groff suggests a new theory of mind that she calls whole-mindedness, a framework that updates and expands on multiple intelligences in order to best meet the demands of our multimedia-saturated twenty-first-century learning environments. Groff positions her argument within the new and flourishing field of cognitive neuroscience, where, among numerous advances, researchers have found evidence that aspects of human neurophysiology are changing as a result of our digitally influenced environments (Small, Moody, Siddarth, & Bookheimer, 2008). She argues for a departure from predominantly verbal learning environments and a move toward the creation and adoption of multimodal learning experiences—which are particularly accessible in and through the arts—to best capitalize on the strengths and needs of today’s learners.

    Following Groff, and almost testifying to her call for new and varied modes of promoting learning, we hear the stories of several students and educators who credit their successes—and sometimes even their lives—to the availability of multiple modes of arts learning and expression. Michele K. Sommer tells of the impact the arts had on her in an otherwise inaccessible schooling experience; Victor B. Almanzar describes how he found a career and livelihood through drama; and Linda F. Nathan tells the story of Ronald, a student for whom the arts—particularly music—provided a pathway to personal resilience in the face of difficult life circumstances. Next, “Drama in the Dale” takes us across the Atlantic to the small town of Weardale, England, where Julie Ward, Helen Frances Mills, and Alan Anderson tell the story of a community drama program that expanded the vision of a country housewife and had healing effects for an army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. Also in the U.K., drama led Sean Abbs and his students to question their core values and beliefs in unique and unexpected ways. Back in the U.S., in “Art and Its Tantalizing Effects,” Kelly Huynh finds the strength to take risks and solve problems in her life by first experimenting with doing so in her art.

    Further attesting to the urgency of constructing multimodal learning environments through the arts, Simon Hayhoe, in “Expanding Our Vision of Museum Education and Perception: An Analysis of Three Case Studies of Independent Blind Arts Learners,” explores the experiences of blind visitors to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Through in-depth case studies of a selection of such individuals, Hayhoe illuminates the need to actively include the widest range of students in all arts learning experiences. Azalea Rosario, John Kelleher, and Theodore P. White also offer new insights for ways of viewing the world through the arts based on their respective experiences taking on the roles of Shakespearean characters, observing children’s art, and gaining design skills through adult education classes. Nicole Keller drives home the need for our current educational system to expose all learners to simultaneous multiple modalities when she describes how becoming present in her own body—learning to dance—was what truly made her a writer.

    Lest the tasks of transforming educational environments into havens of multimodal arts learning appear ambitious to the point of being impractical, in “Universal Design for Learning and the Arts,” Don Glass, Anne Meyer, and David H. Rose present UDL guidelines as a framework for making diverse curricula accessible to the widest variety of students through learning environments that incorporate multiple modalities. Moreover, Glass, Meyer, and Rose argue that the future of UDL lies in the incorporation of meaningful arts experiences and that the field of arts education must in turn use the guidelines set forth by UDL in order to strengthen its impact and to lead the way for education in the twenty-first century. Eric Booth follows these authors in a similarly practical vein, by advocating for isotonic instruction—infusing the school day with brief, intense, and isolated artistic experiences—in order to ensure that the arts remain a vital part of schools’ curricula despite policy and practice that threaten to strip students of arts education completely.

    Addressing another context in which the arts are in danger of being lost is musician and educator Louise M. Pascale, who founded the Afghan Children’s Songbook Project in response to the potential loss of Afghanistan’s musical traditions under Taliban rule. She describes how, through learning songs by local composers in various native dialects, Afghan children and adults can once again be connected to aspects of their history and how students across the world may come to appreciate similarities between their cultures and those of foreign people. Underscoring Pascale’s message, Linda Sankat’s villanelle “Lay Tarmac and Hit Playback” argues—in metered verse—that “music is the world intertwined.”

    Keeping these ideas alive in their narrative “Ka ulana ‘ana i ka piko (In Weaving You Begin at the Center),” Marit Dewhurst, Lia O’Neill Moanike‘ala Ah-Lan Keawe, Marsha MacDowell, Cherie N. K. Okada-Carlson, and Annette Ku‘uipolani Wong provide us with a framework for understanding the power of arts education to connect people to themselves (intrapersonally), to others (interpersonally), and to their wider communities and broader cultures. Koji Matsunobu then guides us through his journey of connecting with his innermost spirit by learning the shakuhachi (bamboo flute).

    As senior citizens working with young people within an intergenerational arts program, Marsha Gildin, Rose O. Binder, Irving Chipkin, Vera Fogelman, Billie Goldstein, and Albert Lippel discuss their personal experiences and the connections they’ve made with those of another generation through common arts learning engagement. Building on this, in HER’s first cross-generational dialogue, Charles Kim and Nobuko Miyamoto explore arts education encounters that speak specifically to the communities in which learners are situated, linking this new vision for arts education back to the writings of John Dewey, who envisioned an ideal education as one that is, at its core, relevant to learners. Scott Ruescher rounds off this conversation about the power of arts to connect people across time and cultures with his poem “La Despedida.”

    In addition to connecting learners to themselves, their histories, and their communities, the next grouping of articles, reflections, and stories considers how the arts are used to actively change the environments in which we live. In “Graphica” Stephanie Jones and James F. Woglom demonstrate the unique capacity of comic book art to convey the entanglement of complex theoretical ideas, personal emotions, and insights that text alone cannot. In “Speak Out. Act Up. Move Forward.: Disobedience-Based Arts Education” authors Alison Kotin, Stella Aguirre McGregor, DeAnna Pellecchia, Ingrid Schatz, and Shaw Pong Liu playfully poke at the original “DBAE” (discipline-based art education) that brought controversy to the field in the 1980s and 1990s (Duke, 1988; Hausman, 2007) while describing how youth in Boston’s Urbano Project use multimedia performance to develop a deeper awareness of civil disobedience. In “Guerrilla Art Action: Taking It to the Street with Teenage Students,” Steven Ciampaglia’s students at Marwen in Chicago use guerrilla art to understand and interrogate the stereotyping that they personally experience—and sometimes perpetuate—within their communities.

    It may almost seem facetious that out of these powerful examples of arts-based social action and learning, we turn to the provocative question, “Do the arts really do anything?” In his theoretical essay, however, Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández seeks not merely to push the boundaries of current understandings of arts education, but to disrupt and rethink the very assumptions that arts educators make about their own field. To do this, he takes a discursive view of arts education, arguing that the field of arts teaching and learning is widely understood through a “rhetoric of effects” that limits the potential of arts education. As an alternative, he proposes a new way of making meaning of arts education that he calls the “rhetoric of cultural production.” This new approach to understanding arts teaching and learning challenges traditional understandings of culture and argues that “culture is not what people are, what people have, or even what they value; culture is what people do.”

    Closing the issue with her afterword “The Turning of the Leaves: Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education,” Maxine Greene reflects on what it means to consider the future of the arts in a way that propels us forward while at the same time retains the sense of wonder that makes arts learning experiences so uniquely engaging for a variety of learners. Utilizing the metaphor of turning leaves—from fall to winter to spring—Greene argues that our engagement with the arts is “always becoming, and can never be fully captured.” Building on this metaphor, Greene makes a case for keeping the wonder and humanness of the arts within arts education, whatever form arts teaching and learning may take in the decades ahead.

    Compiling this special issue has been an exciting journey for us. We began feeling inspired, challenged, and humbled by the wide response to our call for proposals. We then became deeply immersed in the rich complexities of ideas and emotions wrapped up in discussions concerning the future of arts education. In many ways, both as individuals and as an Editorial Board, we have been transformed by simply engaging in this discussion. Yet, engaging in this dialogue has not given us a sense of closure where the concept of the arts in education is concerned. While we have been impressed and inspired by the propositions, celebrations, calls to action, and daring assertions that can be found within Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education, we are cognizant of the fact that there are no conclusive, final words to be found here. Instead, we see each contribution as a prompt for a new conversation concerning the future of arts teaching and learning. As Maxine Greene notes in her afterword, it is ever important not to pursue answers but, instead, to live in the questions that arts learning asks of us. In so doing, the potential for the arts in education will grow, expand, and make itself known to us in sometimes striking, sometimes subtle, but always in substantive ways.

    Edward P. Clapp and Laura A. Edwards
    Special Issue Coeditors

    Bucheli M., R. J., Goldberg, M. R., & Phillips, A. (1991). Symposium: Arts as education. Harvard Educational Review, 61(3), 25–26.

    Duke, L. L. (1988). The Getty Center for Education in the Arts and Discipline-Based Art Education. Art Education, 41(2), 7–12.

    Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

    Goldberg, M. R., & Phillips, A. (Eds.). (1992). Arts as education (Harvard Educational Review Reprint Series No. 24). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

    Greene, M. (1991). Texts as margins. Harvard Educational Review, 61(1), pp. 27–39.

    Greene, M. (2001). Thinking of things as if they could be otherwise: The arts and intimations of a better social order. In Variations on a blue guitar: The Lincoln Center Institute lectures on aesthetic education (pp. 116–121). New York: Teachers College Press.

    Hausman, J. J. (2007). The rise and fall of the J. Paul Getty Foundation’s programs in arts education. Visual Arts Research, 43(1), 4–13.

    Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books.

    Small, G. W., Moody, T. D., Siddarth, P., & Bookheimer, S. Y. (2008). Your brain on Google: Patterns of cerebral activation during Internet searching. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17(2), 116–126.

    As with any large project, an undertaking of this magnitude would not have been possible without the time, energy, and support of a diverse pool of committed individuals. As coeditors of Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education, we thank the HER Special Issue Subcommittee—Jacob Fay, Adrienne Keene, John T. McLaughlin, Matthew P. Shaw, and Yan Yang—for the great care they took in working with all of the submissions we received and for assisting us with every phase of our work on this project. We additionally thank the 2012–2013 HER chairpersons, John T. McLaughlin and Karen C. Yeyinmen, and their forebears, Paul Kuttner and Monica Ng, for their continuous support, advocacy, and sage advice at each stage of the process of developing this important issue. We further owe thanks to our fellow HER Board members, past and present, for all of the hard work they have done to bring this issue to life. Additionally, we offer our thanks to individuals from the 2012 HGSE Arts in Education program—Donna DiBartolomeo, Gregory Moore, Moira Pirsch, Angela Tillges, Allison Trombley, and Laura Ricci—for their assistance in developing our initial Call for Proposals for scholarly content and our Call for Submissions for Stories from Children, Youth, and Adult Arts Learners. We are grateful as well to members of the 2013 HGSE Arts in Education program cohort—particularly Lauren Jobson-Ahmed, Nicholas Monzi, and Sara Straubel—for the knowledge and expertise they shared and the key role they played in developing the Arts Resources for Educators section that appears in this issue. Thanks are also due to all of the various educators and program coordinators who helped facilitate our connections with student authors featured in this issue, especially Maureen E. Donohue of the Creative Arts Team Youth Theatre, Gus Rogerson of the 52nd Street Project, and Michele Sommer of Rockland Country Day School. We also owe our gratitude to our publisher, the Harvard Educational Publishing Group, particularly Chris Leonesio and Sumita Mukherji, for their guidance throughout the production process, Joanna Hildebrand Craig for her copyediting wizardry, Laura Madden for her guidance and expertise in the marketing of this issue, and Sheila Walsh for her layout and design work. Last, but certainly not least, we especially thank HER’s manuscripts and rights assistant, Laura Clos, for her unwavering support for this and all issues of our journal. Her guidance and long view of the mechanics and history of the Harvard Educational Review continue to “expand our vision” at each step of the way.

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    Spring 2013 Issue


    Foreword: Exploding Parameters and an Expanded Embrace
    A Proposal for the Arts in Education in the Twenty-First Century
    Editors’ Introduction
    Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education
    Edward P. Clapp and Laura A. Edwards
    Expanding Our “Frames” of Mind for Education and the Arts
    Expanding Our Vision of Museum Education and Perception
    An Analysis of Three Case Studies of Independent Blind Arts Learners
    Universal Design for Learning and the Arts
    Don Glass, Anne Meyer, and David H. Rose
    Comics Arts-Based Educational Research
    Why the Arts Don’t Do Anything
    Toward a New Vision for Cultural Production in Education
    Afterword: The Turning of the Leaves
    Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education

    Book Notes

    The Learner-Directed Classroom
    Diane B. Jaquith and Nan E. Hathaway (Editors)

    Critical Aesthetic Pedagogy
    Yolanda Medina

    Hip Hop Genius
    Sam Seidel

    Design and Thinking
    Mu-Ming Tsai (Director)

    Changing Lives
    Tricia Tunstall

    Art Education Beyond the Classroom
    Alice Wexler (Editor)

    Call 1-800-513-0763 to order this issue.