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                                  Journal of Children and Media
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                                  Art as Experience, rather than
                                  Appreciation
                                  Erin Reilly
                                  Available online: 27 Oct 2011




To cite this article: Erin Reilly (2011): Art as Experience, rather than Appreciation , Journal of
Children and Media, 5:4, 471-474

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REVIEW AND COMMENTARY               471

                                                        after the first year. What room do we give experimental schools such as Q2L, who
                                                        encourage students in a gamelike scenario to “fail early and often,” to work through their
                                                        own bugs before rebooting the educational system for the umpteenth time?
                                                               Resilience will be the key to the success not only for Q2L’s students, but also for the
                                                        pedagogical model overall, particularly as Q2L plans an expansion for a Chicago school site
                                                        starting in fall 2011. The goal is not to replicate the New York City site, but rather apply the
                                                        strongest concepts and make changes that suit the local community. To fully under-
                                                        stand where a charter school model can go, it is important to understand where it starts.
                                                        This document provides an opportunity to take a look under the hood of what drives
                                                        this novel approach and offers insight for those looking to potentially model such
                                                        innovation.


                                                              REFERENCE
                                                        Wright, W. (2011). Probability space, possibility space. Lecture Presented at the Computer History
Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011




                                                             Museum, Mountain View, CA, USA. Retrieved from http://www.computerhistory.org/
                                                             revolution/computer-games/16/201/2309


                                                          Meryl Alper is a Ph.D. student in Communication at the Annenberg School for
                                                               Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her research
                                                               focuses on young children’s relationships with analog and digital media, and the way
                                                               these practices are embedded within family communication. She is also currently
                                                               involved in various research initiatives with The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame
                                                               Workshop and the Annenberg Innovation Lab. e-mail: malper@usc.edu


                                                                                                     http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2011.599533



                                                              COMMENTARY
                                                              ART AS EXPERIENCE, RATHER THAN
                                                              APPRECIATION
                                                              New media literacies in the classroom

                                                              Erin Reilly

                                                               With the majority of our children in the United States continuing to be “taught to the
                                                        test,” schools like Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts (LFCSA) in Los Angeles are taking a
                                                        different approach to learning in hopes to prepare their students to acquire habits of mind that
                                                        prepare them for jobs that do not even exist today. This is not an art school geared toward
                                                        teaching technique and preparing students to be masters of a specific discipline like dance or
                                                        visual arts. Instead, this is an elementary school that integrates arts across curricula to foster
                                                        experiences for students to be curious, collaborative, and persistent in whatever they’re
472   REVIEW AND COMMENTARY

                                                              learning. Skill building is the main focus for most elementary schools, but at LFCSA it is not
                                                              accidental that skills are learned through metaphoric thinking, rather than as rote knowledge.
                                                                    New modes of meaning such as thinking through metaphors have emerged that
                                                              need to be taken into consideration when thinking about literacy (Kress, 2003). Though it is
                                                              important to know how to traditionally read and write, these “new” media literacies build
                                                              upon this knowledge and offer new forms of reading and writing through social interaction
                                                              with others. The new media literacies, a set of social skills and cultural competencies, are
                                                              not tied to traditional curriculum standards and practices, but instead are best developed
                                                              through creative and engaging projects. In his book, Understanding Media, Marshall
                                                              McLuhan (1964) says that a medium is “any extension of ourselves,” and uses the metaphor
                                                              of a hammer extending our arm. Tools we have today, such as the ability to sample music,
                                                              capture video, or edit media, encourage students to use that which they are comfortable
                                                              with to socially construct meanings of the world.
                                                                    While visiting LFCSA, I follow a first-grade generalist teacher as she guides her
Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011




                                                              students past shipping containers converted into classroom spaces to enter Nick Kello’s
                                                              music class. Nick Kello stands in the middle of the room strumming his guitar as it records to
                                                              the computer connected to it. The song increases in tone as more and more of the students
                                                              enter the room. Behind him, a stream of images extends the song’s metaphor on the TV.
                                                                    As the class of twenty-eight students begins their session, Mr Kello pauses the rotating
                                                              images on a picture of a banana split and asks, “What’s in this type of sundae?” Kids shout out
                                                              “cherries, nuts, ice cream and bananas!” He poses another question, “But where do bananas
                                                              come from?” Answers from “the supermarket” to “a tree” to “a truck” to “a boat” are responses
                                                              that the students and their generalist teacher shout out. Together, they map the journey of
                                                              the banana in the banana split that passes through the hands of the different workers all the
                                                              way to the banana tree in Jamaica that shares its home with the tarantula that uses the tree
                                                              for shelter. With each portion of the journey, Nick strums his guitar to facilitate a new sound
                                                              out of his computer. In the end, the different layers combine together through the song of:
                                                                    It’s six foot, seven foot, eight foot BUNCH!
                                                                    Daylight come and me wan’ go home.

                                                                     Mr. Kello’s goal as a music teacher is to have the students learn Harry Bellafonte’s call
                                                              and response song. They learn about the difference between verse and chorus, and how to
                                                              sing and pantomime a song from memory. But at the same time, this song is the creative
                                                              string that ties back to the different themes of food, workers, animals and their shelters, and
                                                              transportation, learned across the generalist subjects the first grade teacher oversees
                                                              during the day. Through this process, Nick and all the participants of the session actively
                                                              inquire and think about the message of Bellafonte’s song. Using the new media literacy and
                                                              transmedia navigation, Nick meaningfully uses the tools to tell the story of the song across
                                                              multiple forms of media to expand the thinking of the students and encourage them to
                                                              discuss the social and cultural implications of what the song means.
                                                                     Music helps define who we are and is one of the top modes of expression for building
                                                              a sense of community, as shown in Nick’s lesson. We are in a paradigm shift in the classroom
                                                              where educators, like Nick, need to work in the gap between life and school. This provides
                                                              teachers an opportunity to offer learning objectives in their classrooms in a new way, while
                                                              at the same time offering students opportunities to read and write their cultural practices
                                                              that are central to their own everyday experience.
REVIEW AND COMMENTARY               473

                                                               There are two methods happening in this experience that sets LFCSA apart from
                                                        other schools. The first is a pioneering method LFCSA requires of their generalist teachers,
                                                        which is to participate alongside their students in the art-specialized classes. And the other
                                                        method is the fluidity of subjects that converge in a single experience with the awareness
                                                        and recognition that media and art gives people a language to understand complexity.
                                                               Karin Newlin, Principal of LFCSA, realized both these needs through participation in
                                                        an eight-year visual arts curriculum project with The J. Paul Getty Trust. From that project,
                                                        she observed that transfer of knowledge from the arts specialists to the larger curriculum
                                                        wasn’t happening because teachers took their breaks during the time their students
                                                        participated in the extracurricular courses. If the generalist teacher lacked artistic training or
                                                        never experienced art first-hand, then integration back into the classroom didn’t happen.
                                                        So, with the establishment of Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts five years ago, this
                                                        approach became part of the ethos of the school.
                                                               From my experience observing the classroom, this has proven to be a win-win for the
                                                        students and the teachers participating in the lessons. For Mr Kello, who is not certified in
Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011




                                                        elementary education, this offers him a chance to learn from the generalist teacher strategies
                                                        on classroom management as well as gain a better understanding of the psychology of the
                                                        students, especially since he only sees them only once a week where the generalist teacher
                                                        sees the students every day. For the first grade generalist teacher, she realizes the importance
                                                        of experiencing the combined media and art forms and has a deeper understanding of how
                                                        to make meaning of it in order to conduct that type of learning in her own classroom.
                                                               Moreover, Mr Kello has come into this learning experience with no set assumptions of
                                                        what the students can and cannot do. This allows him the freedom to push them further and
                                                        take risks in what they are capable of learning, encouraging the new media literacy of play—
                                                        the ability to experiment with their surroundings toward a form of problem solving. And for
                                                        the generalist teacher who is observing Mr Kello, there is a deeper respect gained for her
                                                        students’ abilities to understand and learn.
                                                               With LFCSA practicing this method now for five years, Karin Newlin has witnessed that
                                                        the generalist teachers who have been with the program from its inception are now
                                                        collaborating with the art teachers from the beginning, creating metaphoric techniques and
                                                        discussions that span across the different classroom sessions such as using rhythm to explain
                                                        punctuation in a sentence, as much as timing of a song. Teachers have had a shift in mindset
                                                        that has loosened their style to be more open to process rather than directive. Karin shares,
                                                              This is messy learning, one where projects evolve and change and both students and
                                                              teachers need to work fluidly alongside each other in order to complete a project. More
                                                              and more each year, teachers are pooling their subjects together into themed tracks with
                                                              an emphasis on learning by doing. (Personal communication, April 2011)

                                                              This is the first year in their new building and LFCSA has seen an increase in student
                                                        enrollment with the additional space they now have. New students in every grade have
                                                        converged with the returning students, yet the divergence is the jumping off point for learning.
                                                        The LFCSA teachers have had to work really hard this year at bridging the creative thinking gap
                                                        between the returning and new students, especially in the older age groups where the kids are
                                                        frozen in their creativity as they are more focused on knowing what teachers want rather than
                                                        jumping in and exploring, messing around and coming up with a project.
                                                              LFCSA is a practiced, “on the ground,” example of the importance of putting arts and
                                                        media at the center of learning. Even more important, research shows that encouraging
474   REVIEW AND COMMENTARY

                                                              creativity in a child’s learning process helps them to grow into “creative people and possess
                                                              an ability to adopt a number of different stances or perspectives . . . and master a
                                                              vocabulary that enables them to assess their work in multiple dimensions, so that they can
                                                                                                                                   ¨
                                                              pass more qualified judgments than just ‘good’ or ‘bad’” (Lindstrom, 2006, p. 57).
                                                                    Incorporating the new media literacies into the classroom allows for a blurring of
                                                              boundaries between informal and formal learning and harnesses a new form of literacy that
                                                              helps teachers encourage our students to read and write in new ways. This shift changes
                                                              the focus of literacy from individual expression to community involvement, where creativity
                                                              and active participation are the hallmark. And it makes it increasingly important to
                                                              understand and be competent in the skills of citizenship, art, and expression of social
                                                              connectivity (Jenkins, Purushotoma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2009).
                                                                    Putting arts and new media literacies at the center is not about appreciation. This is
                                                              not an act of doing that can be turned on and off like a light switch. When you truly put art
                                                              and media at the center, you learn to embody and embrace the task of hard learning and
                                                              explore a deeper understanding of the complexities of the world we live in, and LFCSA is
Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011




                                                              preparing our children for just that.


                                                                    REFERENCES
                                                              Jenkins, H., Purushotoma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the
                                                                     challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA:
                                                                     The MIT Press.
                                                              Kress, G. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. London and New York, NY: Routledge.
                                                                      ¨
                                                              Lindstrom, L. (2006). Creativity: What is it? Can you assess it? Can it be taught? International
                                                                     Journal of Art & Design Education, 25(1), 53 –66.
                                                              McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

                                                                Erin Reilly is Creative Director for Annenberg Innovation Lab and Research Director for
                                                                      Project New Media Literacies at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications &
                                                                      Journalism. Her research focus is children, youth and media and the interdisciplinary,
                                                                      creative learning experiences that occur through social and cultural participation
                                                                      with emergent technologies. Erin consults with private and public companies in the
                                                                      areas of mobile, creative strategy and transmedia projects for children. e-mail:
                                                                      ereilly@usc.edu


                                                                                                          http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2011.599534




                                                                    BOOK REVIEW

                                                                    Bitten by Twilight: Youth culture, media, and the vampire franchise
                                                                    M. A. Click, J. Stevens Aubrey, & E. Behm-Morawitz (Eds.), 2010, New York, NY: Peter
                                                                    Lang Publishing
                                                                    ISBN 978-1433108938

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Art as Experience, rather than Appreciation

  • 1. This article was downloaded by: [Erin Reilly] On: 25 November 2011, At: 14:22 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Children and Media Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rchm20 Art as Experience, rather than Appreciation Erin Reilly Available online: 27 Oct 2011 To cite this article: Erin Reilly (2011): Art as Experience, rather than Appreciation , Journal of Children and Media, 5:4, 471-474 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2011.599534 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
  • 2. REVIEW AND COMMENTARY 471 after the first year. What room do we give experimental schools such as Q2L, who encourage students in a gamelike scenario to “fail early and often,” to work through their own bugs before rebooting the educational system for the umpteenth time? Resilience will be the key to the success not only for Q2L’s students, but also for the pedagogical model overall, particularly as Q2L plans an expansion for a Chicago school site starting in fall 2011. The goal is not to replicate the New York City site, but rather apply the strongest concepts and make changes that suit the local community. To fully under- stand where a charter school model can go, it is important to understand where it starts. This document provides an opportunity to take a look under the hood of what drives this novel approach and offers insight for those looking to potentially model such innovation. REFERENCE Wright, W. (2011). Probability space, possibility space. Lecture Presented at the Computer History Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011 Museum, Mountain View, CA, USA. Retrieved from http://www.computerhistory.org/ revolution/computer-games/16/201/2309 Meryl Alper is a Ph.D. student in Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on young children’s relationships with analog and digital media, and the way these practices are embedded within family communication. She is also currently involved in various research initiatives with The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Annenberg Innovation Lab. e-mail: malper@usc.edu http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2011.599533 COMMENTARY ART AS EXPERIENCE, RATHER THAN APPRECIATION New media literacies in the classroom Erin Reilly With the majority of our children in the United States continuing to be “taught to the test,” schools like Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts (LFCSA) in Los Angeles are taking a different approach to learning in hopes to prepare their students to acquire habits of mind that prepare them for jobs that do not even exist today. This is not an art school geared toward teaching technique and preparing students to be masters of a specific discipline like dance or visual arts. Instead, this is an elementary school that integrates arts across curricula to foster experiences for students to be curious, collaborative, and persistent in whatever they’re
  • 3. 472 REVIEW AND COMMENTARY learning. Skill building is the main focus for most elementary schools, but at LFCSA it is not accidental that skills are learned through metaphoric thinking, rather than as rote knowledge. New modes of meaning such as thinking through metaphors have emerged that need to be taken into consideration when thinking about literacy (Kress, 2003). Though it is important to know how to traditionally read and write, these “new” media literacies build upon this knowledge and offer new forms of reading and writing through social interaction with others. The new media literacies, a set of social skills and cultural competencies, are not tied to traditional curriculum standards and practices, but instead are best developed through creative and engaging projects. In his book, Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan (1964) says that a medium is “any extension of ourselves,” and uses the metaphor of a hammer extending our arm. Tools we have today, such as the ability to sample music, capture video, or edit media, encourage students to use that which they are comfortable with to socially construct meanings of the world. While visiting LFCSA, I follow a first-grade generalist teacher as she guides her Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011 students past shipping containers converted into classroom spaces to enter Nick Kello’s music class. Nick Kello stands in the middle of the room strumming his guitar as it records to the computer connected to it. The song increases in tone as more and more of the students enter the room. Behind him, a stream of images extends the song’s metaphor on the TV. As the class of twenty-eight students begins their session, Mr Kello pauses the rotating images on a picture of a banana split and asks, “What’s in this type of sundae?” Kids shout out “cherries, nuts, ice cream and bananas!” He poses another question, “But where do bananas come from?” Answers from “the supermarket” to “a tree” to “a truck” to “a boat” are responses that the students and their generalist teacher shout out. Together, they map the journey of the banana in the banana split that passes through the hands of the different workers all the way to the banana tree in Jamaica that shares its home with the tarantula that uses the tree for shelter. With each portion of the journey, Nick strums his guitar to facilitate a new sound out of his computer. In the end, the different layers combine together through the song of: It’s six foot, seven foot, eight foot BUNCH! Daylight come and me wan’ go home. Mr. Kello’s goal as a music teacher is to have the students learn Harry Bellafonte’s call and response song. They learn about the difference between verse and chorus, and how to sing and pantomime a song from memory. But at the same time, this song is the creative string that ties back to the different themes of food, workers, animals and their shelters, and transportation, learned across the generalist subjects the first grade teacher oversees during the day. Through this process, Nick and all the participants of the session actively inquire and think about the message of Bellafonte’s song. Using the new media literacy and transmedia navigation, Nick meaningfully uses the tools to tell the story of the song across multiple forms of media to expand the thinking of the students and encourage them to discuss the social and cultural implications of what the song means. Music helps define who we are and is one of the top modes of expression for building a sense of community, as shown in Nick’s lesson. We are in a paradigm shift in the classroom where educators, like Nick, need to work in the gap between life and school. This provides teachers an opportunity to offer learning objectives in their classrooms in a new way, while at the same time offering students opportunities to read and write their cultural practices that are central to their own everyday experience.
  • 4. REVIEW AND COMMENTARY 473 There are two methods happening in this experience that sets LFCSA apart from other schools. The first is a pioneering method LFCSA requires of their generalist teachers, which is to participate alongside their students in the art-specialized classes. And the other method is the fluidity of subjects that converge in a single experience with the awareness and recognition that media and art gives people a language to understand complexity. Karin Newlin, Principal of LFCSA, realized both these needs through participation in an eight-year visual arts curriculum project with The J. Paul Getty Trust. From that project, she observed that transfer of knowledge from the arts specialists to the larger curriculum wasn’t happening because teachers took their breaks during the time their students participated in the extracurricular courses. If the generalist teacher lacked artistic training or never experienced art first-hand, then integration back into the classroom didn’t happen. So, with the establishment of Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts five years ago, this approach became part of the ethos of the school. From my experience observing the classroom, this has proven to be a win-win for the students and the teachers participating in the lessons. For Mr Kello, who is not certified in Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011 elementary education, this offers him a chance to learn from the generalist teacher strategies on classroom management as well as gain a better understanding of the psychology of the students, especially since he only sees them only once a week where the generalist teacher sees the students every day. For the first grade generalist teacher, she realizes the importance of experiencing the combined media and art forms and has a deeper understanding of how to make meaning of it in order to conduct that type of learning in her own classroom. Moreover, Mr Kello has come into this learning experience with no set assumptions of what the students can and cannot do. This allows him the freedom to push them further and take risks in what they are capable of learning, encouraging the new media literacy of play— the ability to experiment with their surroundings toward a form of problem solving. And for the generalist teacher who is observing Mr Kello, there is a deeper respect gained for her students’ abilities to understand and learn. With LFCSA practicing this method now for five years, Karin Newlin has witnessed that the generalist teachers who have been with the program from its inception are now collaborating with the art teachers from the beginning, creating metaphoric techniques and discussions that span across the different classroom sessions such as using rhythm to explain punctuation in a sentence, as much as timing of a song. Teachers have had a shift in mindset that has loosened their style to be more open to process rather than directive. Karin shares, This is messy learning, one where projects evolve and change and both students and teachers need to work fluidly alongside each other in order to complete a project. More and more each year, teachers are pooling their subjects together into themed tracks with an emphasis on learning by doing. (Personal communication, April 2011) This is the first year in their new building and LFCSA has seen an increase in student enrollment with the additional space they now have. New students in every grade have converged with the returning students, yet the divergence is the jumping off point for learning. The LFCSA teachers have had to work really hard this year at bridging the creative thinking gap between the returning and new students, especially in the older age groups where the kids are frozen in their creativity as they are more focused on knowing what teachers want rather than jumping in and exploring, messing around and coming up with a project. LFCSA is a practiced, “on the ground,” example of the importance of putting arts and media at the center of learning. Even more important, research shows that encouraging
  • 5. 474 REVIEW AND COMMENTARY creativity in a child’s learning process helps them to grow into “creative people and possess an ability to adopt a number of different stances or perspectives . . . and master a vocabulary that enables them to assess their work in multiple dimensions, so that they can ¨ pass more qualified judgments than just ‘good’ or ‘bad’” (Lindstrom, 2006, p. 57). Incorporating the new media literacies into the classroom allows for a blurring of boundaries between informal and formal learning and harnesses a new form of literacy that helps teachers encourage our students to read and write in new ways. This shift changes the focus of literacy from individual expression to community involvement, where creativity and active participation are the hallmark. And it makes it increasingly important to understand and be competent in the skills of citizenship, art, and expression of social connectivity (Jenkins, Purushotoma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2009). Putting arts and new media literacies at the center is not about appreciation. This is not an act of doing that can be turned on and off like a light switch. When you truly put art and media at the center, you learn to embody and embrace the task of hard learning and explore a deeper understanding of the complexities of the world we live in, and LFCSA is Downloaded by [Erin Reilly] at 14:22 25 November 2011 preparing our children for just that. REFERENCES Jenkins, H., Purushotoma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Kress, G. (2003). Literacy in the new media age. London and New York, NY: Routledge. ¨ Lindstrom, L. (2006). Creativity: What is it? Can you assess it? Can it be taught? International Journal of Art & Design Education, 25(1), 53 –66. McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Erin Reilly is Creative Director for Annenberg Innovation Lab and Research Director for Project New Media Literacies at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism. Her research focus is children, youth and media and the interdisciplinary, creative learning experiences that occur through social and cultural participation with emergent technologies. Erin consults with private and public companies in the areas of mobile, creative strategy and transmedia projects for children. e-mail: ereilly@usc.edu http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2011.599534 BOOK REVIEW Bitten by Twilight: Youth culture, media, and the vampire franchise M. A. Click, J. Stevens Aubrey, & E. Behm-Morawitz (Eds.), 2010, New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing ISBN 978-1433108938