from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A vision to consider -- on education and more 

crossposted at dailykos, myleftwing, and teacherken.blogspot.com

Yesterday was an in-service day for our department. One day a year we leave school and go do something together to broaden our knowledge, and to take some time to be together. Our visit yesterday was to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which I assure you is worth visiting if you are in Baltimore. It is quite close to the Inner Harbor, and fascinating in itself. Their educational goals will be the structure of the vision to consider.

One of the primary benefactors of the museum was the late James Rouse, who among his many achievements developed the Inner Harbor, and Fanueil Hall, and Columbia Maryland. He will also be a part of this diary on a vision to consider.

I urge you to take the time to continue reading what I have to offer today.

If you don’t know the term “visionary art” you might think it is relate to folk art. Not really. While one can go to the link above to learn more, visionary art is that produced by self-taught individuals,usually without formal art training. Often it stems from an intense and “innate personal visions that reels foremost in the creative act itself” (this and the next few quotes are from a handout I received at the museum that I thought especially relevant to many here). The museum understands that such creative self-taught innovators are not limited to the visual arts and even such art must be understood within a broader context of self-tutored innovation.
Throughout history, self-taught, inspired inventors have acted to make a profound and lasting contribution not only in visual arts, but also in science, medicine, music, literature, cuisine, religious thoughts, entertainment, trade, and industry of all sorts.
. It is this understanding that undergirds the museum’s attempt to “convey a deeper comprehension of and appreciation for the roots of visionary art and thought.” It seeks to
promote the recognition of intuitive,self-reliant, creative contribution as both an important historic and essential living piece of treasured human legacy
and it is congressionally delegated as an official national museum for that purpose.

One of the buildings is names after the aforementioned James Rouse. When one takes the elevator to the second floor and alights, if one looks immediately to the left one sees a wall covered with words. The structure of the towards is the 7 educational goals espoused by the museum. Accompanying each of the goals is a quote from Rouse. No source for his words is given, nor could the museum provide me with such a source. At least a few of the quotes seem aimed specifically at a Baltimore audience, perhaps of school children, perhaps of adults. When combined with the goals as they are on the wall, I believe they offer us a vision well worth considering. It will challenge our ideas of the purpose of education and what we consider of value in life. We may not agree with all, but if we disagree even in part we will be forced to clarify our own thinking.

And as you read Rouse’s words, think how they can be applied more broadly, because I know that they can.

As regular readers of my words will surely know, I have many responses to these words. But I do not wish to in any way limit the responses ot this class (oops, thinking like a teacher) -- I mean, this audience to what they encounter. I hope that you will feel provoked to offer your reactions, perhaps to a sentence, perhaps to the entire message. I hope you will consider passing it on to others for their consideration.

Therefore I will offer the material without further commentary from the teacher. I must explain that while I have a printed copy of their educational goals, they museum was unable to provide me with a printed copy of Rouse’s words. When you read those, it is from my rapid transcription will crouching down before the wall. Any inaccuracies or infelicities of expression might therefore be merely my failings as a copyist and not an indication of sloppy thinking by Rouse.

The educational goals will be in bold. Rouse’s words will be in italic.

1. Expand the definition of a worthwhile life.
We must hold fast to the realization that our cities are for people and unless they work well for people they are not working well at all. As the people of the world learn what is possible, they will demand that their cities be geared to the human and the beautiful..

2. Engender respect for and delight in the gifts of others.
Surely the most civilized city would be that one in which the dignity of the individual human being would be so elevated that the bringing forth of his gifts and his talents for his own fulfillment in the service of man would be the ultimate objective.

3. Increase awareness of the wide variety of choices available in life for all -- particularly students
Approach the world out there confidently, optimistically, with brilliant expectations, it is a world of exciting opportunities beyond anything you can imagine. I envy your futures. Pay no heed to the no-sayers, the preachers-of-gloom, and the heavy-hearted who see the world dismally.

4. Encourage each individual to build upon his or her own special knowledge and inner strengths.
Thus, the most important single fact is that we have in our hands the opportunity to make our city - in our generation - the most livable, the most beautiful, and the most effective city in America.

5. Promote the use of innate intelligence, intuition, self-exploration, and creative self-reliance.
The best way to attack any problem is to ask what things would be like if they worked.

6. Confirm the great hunger for finding out just what each of us can do best, in our own voice, at any age.
The way to find new opportunities is to discover needs or yearnings of people that are not being satisfactorily met. The way to prosper is to do that well.

7. Empower the individual to choose to do that something really, really well.
For many years I have worked with the conviction that what ought to be, can be, with the will to make it so. May we rise up in this country an army of thinking that this job ought to be done, can be done, will be done.

Comments, suggestions and even rude remarks are welcomed!
Email accepted at "kber at earthlink dot net"
Preface email messages with "teacherken" so I know they are not spam.
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