Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Current state; Identity

Hello - Let me introduce myself.  My name is Ron Zell.  I am a former California k-8, public school music teacher.  Believe it or not, once upon a time,

there were a number of us.  California actually DID have talented, qualified, professional public-school music, art, dance, and drama teachers in k-12 systems, who gave an enormous amount of time and energy to give the gift of the arts to students and their communities. I know there are still a few out there struggling, and I wish them well.  

Like many of my colleagues, I was good at what I did, enjoyed it enormously, and had a profound effect on the students I taught.  I was fortunate.  My efforts were appreciated by students, parents and the community.   I was honored by my profession by being given the county Teacher of the Year award near the end of my career.  I then went on to became one of the finalists for California Teacher of the Year and was selected to speak at several State Education events the following year.  Topics included "The Arts in Education", Excellence and the Arts in Education, and "Technology and the Arts in Education".  The end came suddenly - and had nothing to do with the caliber of my work or the need for my services .  You can read about it here (Education Cuts) or here - or here but it really isn't necessary.  It is regrettably similar to the thousands of other arts teachers, and tens of thousands of classroom teachers who have been, and continue to be 'eliminated' as a remedy for fiscal irresponsibility. The cause was lost, the battle was futile, and the cost of that (continuing) decision to put another hole in a sinking ship by removing its most critical parts, continues to defy logic, and hurt children.  Damage to the intellectual, social, cultural, and creative fabric of our communities is yet to be ascertained, but it will no doubt be enormous and profound.  My personal views on the causes and effects of that myopia will perhaps become a column for a different time and a different place. 

For now however, let me tell you why I am a writing this blog.  In the 'It is what it is' mentality of the present time, - You can never change the past, - and while I believe thats true, you can and must learn from it.  Institutionalized Education is still sinking, still laying off teachers, and still failing our students.  There are however, lifeboats on the horizon. The future can only be changed by what we do with the present. Specifically, this blog will concentrate on the ARTs in the Art of education.  Because so much of both the Art of education, as well as the ARTS IN education has been stripped from our public schools, I think there is a need for a place where educators, students, parents, and other stakeholders can share and exchange information on the arts in education- all the while finding new ways to apply it. 

The places where an arts enriched education is still even possible is changing.  Prospects for public school are dismal. Private schools, home-school support centers, and charter-schools are perhaps the best possibilities.  Extra curricular and after-school classes, boys and girls clubs, and private teaching are other possible options that come to mind.  Online schooling, computer assisted training, and long-distance learning are still more options that are available and that some believe are the wave of the future.  Each of these however must be approached with care and thoughtful consideration if they are to be part of an "arts enriched education" rather than just another form of 'edu-tainment'. 

- - Continued in next blog - Meanwhile, check out some of the videos on the arts and education below

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