The Hardest Questions Arent on the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School

EduCon 2.3 Panel Discussion – Can Schools Support Student Innovation?
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It actually gave me a lot of skills, a lot of tools to go back on, even math. It taught me a different way of thinking. I also feel if you are a true artist you have to develop your own voice. What is your voice? And what are you trying to say? That is why we aim for wholistic training, because I don't think you should spend all your time in the studio.

And, yes, you can become a fabulous technician, but that is not the true sense of an artist.

Creativity, the Arts, and the Future of Work | SpringerLink

I think you also have to have something that comes from inside you. So you have to enrich every aspect of your brain, your soul, all of that.

And that's why in this school we don't say: we're training you just to become an artist. We say What we know from the arts is there is a whole range of experiences that fall outside of the mind. What our students get is a sense of the things that cannot be expressed in words or mathematical symbols, but deserve expression.

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That is where the arts live. I can't tell you how often students tell me, 'I've had experiences but I can't put them in words. Adolescence is this open field of complications and contradictions. How do you get through that unless you have a way of embracing it and in some way integrating it into your lives. The other side is this: just because you're giving me the arts, it doesn't mean that all of a sudden my world becomes OK. When you give me the arts you're actually creating new anxieties for me, or you're agitating anxieties that I carry.

Our model of teaching is one that involves mentorship. It's important that older artists be a part of their educational experiences. We need you to tell us your story about how you crossed this creative bridge. The world of art-making is hugely anxiety-ridden. People are constantly worrying about reputation, they're doubting themselves, they're questioning themselves.

How do we help students in that space to continue on, to feel like they have enough muscle in them to really feel like they can face some of those monsters? Because there are monsters that come up with art-making. The question in my head going in was: how's to evaluate a public high school that doesn't take tests as the true measure of anything? My question on the way out was: if I had to do high school all over again, wouldn't I rather go to a place like Linda Nathan's Arts Academy than to the sort of "Marine Corps of the Mind" exam-school where I did go -- and where we sent our own three kids?

Who else out there is puzzling through that sort of choice? US Edition U. News U. Students must complete a letter of intent that demonstrates that they understand the challenges involved with addressing the particular problem they want to influence. They must develop a feasible budget, and they must get buy-in from the organization they will work with.

Finally, they must demonstrate how both their academic and artistic skills are put to use in working on their challenge. I believe most adults would struggle with projects of this nature. The requirements of the project position students to think and act like entrepreneurs, but also as artists and collaborators.

They need to deeply understand the organization for which they plan to provide services. They begin to learn about philanthropy through practicing grant writing. In creating a budget, they also learn about asking for in-kind resources. Most importantly, students learn how to convince others of value they can provide. And, of course, given the fact that the project evolves over a couple of semesters, students practice sustaining interest and attention.

These are all skills that are essential for the future. At the end of the project, community partners, alongside teachers, are invited to judge both the written work and the quality of the presentations. This creates a level of engagement and authenticity rarely available with papers or tests. In addition, students work to develop persuasive and creative presentation skills—all skills that are critical to an entrepreneurial approach to work. All students must receive a passing score on their grant project to graduate.

I have chosen to work with this community of people because I have many ties to people in this situation…. Drumming comes from the heart, and I believe if you connect to your heart in honest ways, that could help you get off the street.

The hardest questions aren't on tests: Lessons from an innovative urban school

I grew up with drumming and it helped me get here and get to this school. I think I can show other people that drumming can bring you peace and a sense of control. He gave me something that no one can ever take away. He died while Raul was working on his project.

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Even though Raul personally connected to his project, he had to refine his proposal more than once to get his writing up to the required standard for acceptance. His persistence was evident as he developed his ideas and thought through some of the critique. He was a good drummer, and grew a lot over the four years. However, academically he always did the bare minimum, until he had to do the writing and research for Senior Grant Project.

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He wanted that project to reflect his respect and love for his uncle, and he cared about the issue he was trying to address. This level of engagement should exist in more schools. If all high school students had the chance to perform or exhibit work that reflected their deep interests and passions, school would be a place that matters deeply.

School could be a place that values creativity. Teaching creativity, or at least ensuring multiple and varied creative opportunities in the school day, may hold a key to the future of education, schools, and work. We know that creativity is central to twenty-first Century competencies. Creativity shares the stage with flexibility, critical thinking, collaboration, cross-disciplinary thinking, and even the development of courage.

These are skills, along with content knowledge, that many have agreed must be incorporated into all classrooms.

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This remarkable success, writes Principal Linda Nathan, is in large part due to asking the right questions-questions all schools can consider, such as: Reading The Hardest Questions is like shadowing a principal for a year. “Linda Nathan’s wonderful account of piloting. Editorial Reviews. Review. “For educators or anyone else interested in city schools, this is The Hardest Questions Aren't on the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School Kindle Edition. by Linda Nathan (Author).

However, day-to-day practice tends to favor the attainment of content knowledge and push to the background the development of creativity in most classroom settings. Creativity cannot be mastered without content knowledge.

Talk 2 Standardized Testing

In other words, one cannot be creative about nothing. Creativity must take center stage alongside facts and figures. Although that does not mean developing a test for creativity, education systems must do a better job ensuring that teachers and students have more creative experiences in their PK education. At BAA, creativity is a discipline taught daily, both in arts and academic classes. It is a muscle that is consistently exercised. Students constantly reflect on their own abilities to create. An inquiry-based process, involving the physical response to stimuli.

Stimuli might be in the form of text, music, visuals or movement. Participants respond to the stimuli through gestures, which then become movement studies or phrases and finally a fully choreographed dance. The student dancers spent early rehearsals sharing stories and experiences about difficult or important moments in their lives such as: the death of a relative, being assaulted by a gang member, a tumultuous break-up of a relationship, or becoming homeless.

As students recounted these stories, other dancers responded through gestures. These movement phrases became the basis of the longer piece.

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Her ready admission of many of her previous failures makes it easier to believe this book than say, "Waiting for Superman. What is the context? When they felt their strength, what made them want to push on to something else. We have to do both together. Joy in the work will sustain you over the long haul.

The production is set to excerpts from speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. Kennedy as well as the music of Daniel Bernard Roumain. The instrumentation, which is both lyrical and haunting, is a counterpoint to the emotional speeches of the two famous leaders. The percussive action on stage is tense, wildly chaotic, and then symmetrical. The result is a riveting experience that is both familiar and current since the original stories are universal, yet the piece also carries historical memory and inquiry given the biographies of the two authors.

The audience is asked to hold dualities of present day and history, which creates a certain discomfort and level of inquiry: has anything changed in our world? In speaking with the young participants, whether they were current students or alumni returning to participate in the piece, they revealed how this way of training—as a dancer—had such meaning.

A dancer must both own material and connect that material to self and others. The process prepared them for a life of work, creativity, and problem solving.

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The entire cast has committed to dance as a way to keep violence at bay and to bring beauty into the lives of their communities. As young people, they have developed assets that they know are appreciated by others. The experience gives them a special sense of confidence and agency in their worlds.