“Integrating Art and Technology in a Statewide Curriculum” by Gutermute, Hickey, Hughes and Warhaftig

  • ©Taylor Gutermute, Lynn Hickey, John Hughes, and Alan Warhaftig




    Integrating Art and Technology in a Statewide Curriculum



    This panel discusses issues related to how and why arts instruction in California public schools can be supported with contemporary technologies to enhance students, learning and achievement, and their preparation for life after graduation. The discussion includes the unique issues and concerns of a classroom teacher and the Visual Arts Specialist in the Los Angeles Unified School district, the Arts Education Consultant for the California State Department of Education, and the President and CEO of Rhythm & Hues, Inc. They review the findings of the State Superintendent’s Task Force on the Visual and Performing Arts published in “Artswork: A Call for Arts Education for all California Students. “The Task Force stated the following overarching goal for arts education:
    All students in California public schools will have high-quality arts education programs from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. All students will:
    • Develop and demonstrate literacy in and through dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts.
    • Participate in arts-related school-to-career experiences.
    • Have access to the arts through a variety of educational experiences and technologies both in and out of school.
    Opportunities and constraints experienced by teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District provide case studies for the panel discussion.
    Lynn Hickey
    Visual Arts Specialist, Los Angeles Unified School District
    With graduate degrees in the visual arts, education, and school administration, Lynn Hickey has been involved as a visual arts teacher, school administrator, provider of professional development programs, program developer, and advocate for the use of educational technologies in the Los Angeles schools, the California Department of Education, and several campuses of the California State University.
    While developing aesthetic sensibilities, an arts education in the new millennium must further students’ abilities to participate in an information age and within a global economy. Through a sequential visual and performing arts curriculum supported by contemporary technologies, students must learn to:
    • Communicate effectively using a variety of symbol systems.
    • Understand people and traditions in a diverse and complicated world.
    Taylor Gutermute
    Consultant, Visual and Performing Arts, California Department of Education
    Taylor Gutermute does developmental work in the visual and performing arts, most recently coordinating the development of the Visual and Performing Arts Challenge Standards. She serves as a liaison to the arts education field both statewide and nationally.
    Arts education in California public schools has traditionally focused on the disciplines of dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. For each of these disciplines, arts educators are asked to include four components in their curriculum: artistic perception, creative expression, historical and cultural context, and aesthetic judgment. At this moment in time, with the onset of new technologies, arts educators are asking and are asked questions such as: Who teaches computer graphics? Is video production visual arts or theatre? How do teachers who have taught traditional visual arts techniques get training in new technologies? Is the funding available to purchase necessary equipment for art teachers or those in traditional career education programs?
    While these questions appear mundane, finding answers will help to get effective programs implemented. The recent California Arts Task Force report, Artswork, emphatically requests that there be an “updating of the arts” to embrace the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques.
    John Hughes
    President and CEO, Rhythm & Hues, Inc.
    Rhythm & Hues produces animated visual effects for feature films, theme park attractions, music videos, commercials, and interactive video games. In 1995, Rhythm & Hues won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for “Babe.”
    The K-12 educational environment is challenged to prepare a literate populace, one that can appreciate the visual and performing arts as well as participate in a variety of businesses and industries dependent upon communicating with digital media. It has been demonstrated that students in schools with a strong emphasis on the arts experience greater meaning, excitement, and depth in what they learn. They are more motivated, engaged, and eager to learn. Even if they do not envision themselves in an arts related career in the future, all students can experience the joy and inspiration of the arts, understand the connection of the arts to their lives, and appreciate excellence in the arts.
    Most specifically, we have very particular needs in my industry, for example, for people who are knowledgeable about history and culture and have the ability to draw, design, and communicate ideas using digital media. Industry leaders have both ideas and the responsibility to share them with the education community. Together, for the benefit of all, we must re-conceptualize the components of a quality arts education and ensure its delivery to all students.
    Alan Warhaftig
    Fairfax Magnet High School for the Arts
    Alan Warhaftig teaches American literature and first-year algebra at the Fairfax Magnet Center for Visual Arts. A graduate of Stanford University, where he majored in Social Thought and Institutions and specialized in Caribbean Studies, Mr. Warhaftig has been deeply involved in technology, arts, curriculum, and professional development issues in the Los Angeles Unified School District. As co-chair of the Technology Focus Group, he wrote two widely-disseminated Discussion Papers reflecting his concern that the value of computers and the Internet for K-12 education has been wildly overstated and expressing his doubt about the institutional ability of schools to cope with technology’s costs and other complications.
    K-12 visual arts education in the new millennium will still require foundation training along the lines of that offered at the Fairfax Magnet Center for Visual Arts, where ninth and 10th graders take introductory classes in drawing, sculpture, photography, and computer graphics. In 11th and 12th grade, they take more advanced courses in these areas. Computers are part of our training, but it’s inconceivable that they could substitute for training in the other areas without damaging the development of our student artists.
    As a teacher of American literature, my job is to teach students to read critically. We closely study challenging works. Writing follows reading, and in my classroom writing is about clear expression of ideas. Technical issues are important but secondary. My most precious resource is instructional time, and I would regard the introduction of computers in my classroom as a distraction.
    There are certainly valuable uses for computers and the Internet in K-12 education, and a sensible approach would be to identify these excellent uses, on a grade-by-grade, course-by-course basis, and teach teachers how to use technology to improve curriculum delivery. This should happen before schools spend huge sums on technology that they are not sure how they’ll use.

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