Saturday, October 15, 2011

Boston Academy Arts v. CPS Arts

I understand that Lois and her colleagues were using schools/teachers in the Boston area to generate optimal results with relationship the SHOM-the schools that took arts "seriously" as noted on page 9-although I wonder how the study will develop while in CPS schools? Each school has a different vision and mission for education in general as well as arts education. Visual arts (unfortunately) are often not a priority in the curriculum and many art teachers and departments have to fight to stay alive within a testing culture while budgets are being cut extensively. It is hard at times to read about the Boston schools because these are optimal art education environments and the number of CPS (secondary) schools that mirror these environments are few and far between. Within our overall school and department program I am often frustrated because we cannot provide the same types of "authentic" art experiences that the Boston schools or some of our CPS magnet Visual and/or Fine Arts counterparts can. We do not have the physical studio spaces nor do we have the space in our school's over all program. For example we are running 21 sections of Art I this year (an average of 650 students), concurrently we have four art elective course options for our students (approximately 124 students) and we currently have 13 advanced AP Art and IB Art Portfolio students split with other courses. Our students are consistently recognized locally and earn scholarships for art to many schools, etc. but there are some experiences that we simply cannot provide due to the nature and size of our program within the context of the larger school environment. I realize that the SHOM are about more than just physical space, but this is a major component that we struggle with at LPHS.


  1. It's true that the teachers in Boston seem to have ideal conditions for teaching, extended blocks of time, resources, space, schools that value the arts, etc. Plenty of poorer school districts in the country have adopted use of the ST framework. Alemeda County is a good example.

    Within our project, Lois is looking for specific examples of how teachers are using the ST framework in a variety of settings. Since STAA is not a formal case study, we have more flexibility and room for conversation around our practice. Lois will use best practice examples from our schools in her continued research and next edition of her book. We are doing action research with each other, a national community and with Lois.

    It was very important for Lois to come to Chicago and see our schools. This was her first time seeing CPS schools. We have this opportunity to test ST in our schools, problem solve and then ask Lois for help if we get stuck. We actually think the real potential for this to take off lies within our own Chicago classrooms and shared discourse with STAA project teachers.

  2. I work with Kindergarten to Third Grade students. I also teach Literacy in the mornings. I know that the students do not receive enough science and social studies instruction, so I incorporate that in the art class, which I have to teach all of the arts. I have been using the arts to teach my students no matter what subject or grade level. I notice that they are more engaged and attentive and do maintain the information longer and are able to connect the content to new learning easier when learning through the arts. I feel that now I am learning new jargon, and not necessarily new information, what should I be looking for?

  3. I too have similar obstacles at times. I'm sure accountablity, recording grades online in a timely fashion, how the new "Common Core" buzz word will be incorporated into your lesson planning, has priority for most of us. I try very hard to balance both. I do feel that if you continue to meet the expectations of your administration and then some (bringing in grants that make them look good as well), they eventually will open up to what you need to accomplish as well. I do agree with Beth it is much harder at the highschool level when the dept. and course offerings are more stuctured to incorporate certain aspects of the practice. IS it my understanding that we attempt to visit the various habits? Most of us have been practicing them, it's simply a different vocabulary and looking at ways to assess and recognizing it.

  4. I agree that SHOM is mainly a new language for the things we already do. In fact, that was the whole point of her book- that Lois and her colleagues studied and recorded what actually is taught through the art studio, and this language is how she describes what she found. So it makes sense that SHOM is like a mirror. Perhaps if it is a lens and not just a mirror, we can find the habits more useful.

    Based on the above post by Beth, I am interested in discussing and defining this idea of what makes an art experience "authentic" or not, and how we can nurture that in our not ideal spaces with limited time and resources. I long to make my students art experiences authentic as well.

    I agree that Boston seems to have it made in some ways, but I think we can pull off authenticity if we have it on the front burner and have it defined in our minds.

    It sounds like it might be useful to determine as a group what we would like to get out of this project for ourselves and our students now that we are more familiar with the language.

  5. Well said Liz. I agree that there should be discussion around how to nurture "authentic" experiences in the classroom surrounded by Common Core Standards, limited course offerings, etc. How might this compare in high school versus K-8.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone on Wednesday.