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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Twitter and the First #artsed Chat: A Reflection

Twitter and the First #artsed Chat: A Reflection

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Last night, a few people came together to inaugurate the first #artsed chat on Twitter. Our discussion proved why and how Twitter is important, not just to our conversation, but to all conversations. Here's how it works: you have 140 characters to express your thought or send your message or update your status or build a tribe. You choose who you want to listen to, but anyone can listen to you (unless you block them). Or you can join together under a topic by identifying that topic with a hashtag (#). Then, you can follow topics, not just people. Twitter is perfect for someone like me. I am insatiably curious. I want to know everything. It's a virtual conference reception. A lot of people are moving around from one conversation to another. Some are focused on one conversation. I started the #artsed hashtag more than a year ago to try make it easier for me to learn about what the world was thinking about #artsed in 140 characters or fewer. I follow #artsed, #education, #edchat, #blacked and whatever conference is going on at the time. I tweet about all of those things and put the #topic in my tweet so that I can also let all the other people that follow that # hear what I'm saying (if they're in the virtual room at that moment). Unlike a conference, the transcript of that conversation is saved (now by the Library of Congress) so you can rewind and find what was said when you weren't in the room. And, if anyone says anything about you or liked what you said and tells their followers about it, you find out about that too. (It's instant gratification for the narcissist in all of us. "They like me. They really like me." Or, sometimes for famous people, "They hate me. Stop yelling at me.") The #artsed chat was focused pretty quickly by a rapid fire of thoughts and responses from really smart people. We learned we want a national dialogue in arts education that includes what we called the four legs of the chair: school arts specialists, arts and cultural organizations, teaching artists and classroom teachers. But did we want to make the tent larger? Shouldn't it also include the policy-makers and funders and the machinery of what keeps arts ed going? To do this we need data, but the data is not available. We don't even know how many hours of instruction kids get in the arts. Who would collect and analyze the data? Should WE start the data collection through the democratic institution that is Twitter? We have a lot to talk about that isn't discussed at conferences or in teacher lounges. Can we get enough of our community to join the crazy world of Twitter? You have to be comfortable with open-endedness. What is hard for people is that there's a learning curve for Twitter. It feels like everything is an interruption on Twitter. It really is like a reception at a conference. And, the more people there are, the harder it is to follow the train of thought, especially if you're contributing. "Who am i talking to? Now, someone else is answering me about something i said 10 minutes ago." It's messy. But inside that river of information is useful stuff that you didn't know anything about, but helps to solve the problem that you're experiencing right now in your field. You have to use a different operating system in your mind. But once the switch flips, you can find its potential for having a national dialogue. Everyone is heard by someone. (Side note: this has great potential for researchers. We want to create a movement here. We should all be doing action research on how it all goes. Let's let Twitter help us document the conversation and we can study that also.) I'm still learning how to work parts of Twitter. I've never been an Twitter organizer before. I'm researching the best way to archive the chat in a way that is useful. I promise to let you know as soon as I find out. What do you think about all this? Help us find our way. We could really do something here.

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Carol Parker's picture
Carol Parker
7/8 Drama, Film, Honors & Regular Language Arts

So many fabulous people with great talent in our country. I once lived and breathed and loved the rush of NYC. Sadly, I had to move back to my beautiful but economically starved California. This is a place where there are few arts programs. Luckily I was able to bring my Drama training to my site because my Principal was a Yale grad and GOT IT!! It has been a terrible struggle.....children have never been to a museum, neither have teachers, not to mention Broadway shows, nor have they heard of Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Pygmalion, Jack Benny, Beethoven, West Side Story (seriously),even Diego Rivera and so much else. It has been an uphill battle......I love my students and no one understands and loves the Arts more than a 7/8 grader......paint, colored pencil,
photography, TV and Film history............I know I have made a huge difference in art and American/world history. Yet, it is dying all around me. Just a trip to The Getty is huge and this year it was cut, because of the budget. The 200 students I have were crushed. I am the only faculty who cares about their soul and their arts education. All around me are depressed children. They have NO beauty in their lives. NO JOY!! How desperately we need ART in our culture to be our HUGE priority. I read how you want it integrated. I just WANT IT! WOW! I can sell it to parents and students. I cannot sell it to my faculty to support me. Are we all leading to a state of art ignorance? I do not believe this is happening in all of California.

But, I am an hour from downtown LA, and the ignorance/apathy of adult-teacher interest is astounding! I have extensive information how to integrate art into reading and history and social studies. I am great at Dramatic Interp. I have directed plays and musicals, and plan great field trips. I would love to find Arts funding for Jr High students. Also, teacher education for non-arts teachers and the importance of arts for the brain development that would appeal to an already turned off faculty.

The Band teacher is on another side of the building and mostly after school. He works independently of the school site and although is not appreciated, he has less contact with students. That is also not in the best interest of students lives.

I would like to be a part of your Twitter conversations. I can barely keep up with Facebook! And, look forward to reading more of your ideas.Thanks, cp

Elizabeth Peterson's picture
Elizabeth Peterson
teacher, author, consultant, founder of The Inspired Classroom

YES! #artsed chat was great! I enjoy chatting with other people who are invested in arts education and integration. Our voices must be heard and we need to encourage and support one another. Thanks for what you are doing!

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