Friday, April 29, 2011

New Tangents.

Written by George. com
Last night S- and I saw Open Source, a Jake Gyllenhall film loosely about using computer source code in human brain mapping to recreate, revisit, and reevaluate an event (a terrorist attack).  Worth knowing now is the fact that we are both liberal, democratic, bleeding heart types with a pension for a challenge.  Add to that the fact that neither of us know a dang thing about computer programing.

At the end of the film, I turned to her and asked, "Was that film logical even assuming suspension of disbelief?"
She answered, "Jeez, Lori.  It's all about quantum physics."
from MIT Technology Review online
I  laughed for how incongruent the comment was.

Best part of not working 40+ hours a week is the gift of pursuing random tangents as they present.  So here I go: what the hell are quantum physics?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Preaching to the Choir, New Tack

Educations circles are rife with discussion about the detriments, the frustrations, the looming threats of mandated testing.  I am infinitely flabbergasted, overflowing with disbelief, that legislators, governors and our President (who on every other platform I adore) continue support for the manner (test scores) with which we fund our schools.  So is every other educator I have spoken with.
My pedicure dates with a girlfriend are a blast.  And so random particularly for me.  Wonderfully full of gossip and girly chit chat.  Until a "neighboring pedicure client" overheard us talking about school and classrooms.  
"You guys are teachers, right?"
"Well, yeah, mostly."  (I am retired, but forever a teacher.)
"Can I ask you a question?  My kids go to B--- school and I'm concerned about their AYP and test scores.  I'm considering moving them and driving to C--- schools, but it's so far.  But I want them in the best schools of course."
Pregnant pause here.  What to say?  Scary that this is even a consideration.  Of course we attacked with the value (less-ness) of test scores, the quality of teachers and small schools, the power of public community schools, ad nauseum infinitum and etc., etc.
We were silent when we left the shop.  And in such despair.

Thoughts:  before we continue to flock in support of independent, private and charter schools, and before we abandon great public school classrooms filled qualified and passionate teachers, we must consider the quality of the teachers, the education, the connectedness, the hard work, and all the implications of democracy that our public schools offer.  If parents and community worked as hard at maintaining quality education at their local schools as they give to starting and supporting independent schools, I dare say current concerns would be moot.  And to base the quality of education on the inaccuracy of what test scores actually measure is inane.  The public needs to be advised about what test scores specifically measure AND what the actual aims of standardized testing are.

Please read Diane Ravitch's articulate and well researched book: 

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education 

I have a dream.  I dream that education and learning remains as rich and rewarding as it was during the many years I've been involved.  I dream that our neighborhoods once again become places of community, of sharing and caring.   I dream that our public schools receive adequate and active support from all community members.   And I dream that the administrative and legislative focuses on mandates and accountability loosen their death grip and return the passion of teaching and learning to the teachers and students.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Am I a Feminist?

Alice Neel
I'm in a quandary again.  The local community art center is sponsoring a show: "Women's Art."  A number of us are trying to define this and have been incapable of settling on even a large view:  Is it art by women?  about women?  with women as subject?  The art center has not offered up a definition to the community, so it's upon us to decide...
Alice Neel

Anne Harris. Alexandre Gallery
Of course, the problem complicates further in our middle class philosophical minds.  Is or should this be a feminist agenda?  Is this a tribute to women, or women artists?  As there appears to be no lucid agenda, what do we as artists want it to be?  Or what do I want MY art to be?  And ultimately, I rassle with  the off chance that I'm over-thinking this in all my retired time?  Most likely.

Anne Harris. Alexandre Gallery
But then I sit with my sketchbook and stop, regroup, and circle the same dang jam again.  The fact that I was a champion for "girl power" when teaching forbids me to make "art by women."  Hmmm.

I'm too young to be a first wave feminist, was raised and voraciously read about the second wave feminists, and probably don't quite identify with this third wave.  Maybe I'm just an old girl. My articulate nature says Crap.

That all being unnecessarily said, Alice Neel and contemporary Anne Harris are brilliant and today rock my boat.  Love, love, LOVE being inspired by such great artists.  Now to jive my clear-as-mud thoughts with my inspiration. This is such hard work.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Culture, culture, culture, edrants.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Art Lessons for the 21st Century: A Postmodern Curriculum

          With nervous fingers, I sealed and kissed my book proposal goodbye and good luck, and dropped it in the mailbox today.  I'm feeling a bit like a five year old.  Jeez.
Barbara Kruger
          That being said, I'm SO committed to getting this curriculum "out there."  If anything can save the arts in public as well private schools, it'll be revamping the intent and outcomes of the arts.  Yes, art education should remain expressive, meaningful, creative, and should allow for imagination to free flow.  But current financial and  accountable times are drastically requiring the continuing existence of the arts to also benefit the academic, core subjects.  (Yeah, art is a core, but not according to to many state and federal mandates, hunh?)
          So what to do?  Raging against the machine isn't working- not the most articulate among us who write, speak, blog, paint, organize, or simply cry.  
          My proposal summary begins:
Some say public education is going down the tubes, art education leading the pack.  Switching it up, explicitly adding meaning, language, and sociology, may make the art room important, visible, and crucial to the students of the 21st century, as well as to administrator and politicians running the budgets.  And adding a postmodern twist and new considerations to the old elements and principles of art might just shock the ground upon which old art education moseys.
          I believe it's time, in our schools under the contemporary restraints and attacks, to look deeply at art education as we know it.  Many among us are doing this.  Most are not.  The old paradigm of art education is shifting radically.  With power, passion, and meaning, art education can enhance individual and communal health.  Attention to a social justice and postmodern curriculum may just be the ticket, eh?

         So much to think about, and more to share.  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Black Out Poetry.... Thirty Decades Later

Just discovered Austin Kleon's Blog, Book, Store, Speaking Engagements.... guy knows how to market himself, not that I'm jealous!!  I insert that 30 years ago, in a rural high school English classroom, my students were creating poems using this same method of subtraction.  To think that a BLOG could make this old lesson plan of making poetry go viral... amazing and somewhat laudable.

Kleon's site includes a plethora of sketchbook ideas, which incidentally is one of the avenues he took to get here.  Might be a good consideration for art education and language integration!