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Commentary Detail

Technology and Arts Education
Commentary by: Nancy Kranzberg
Aired August 03, 2012

In an internet article entitled "Integrating Technology in the Art Curriculum" written by Harold Olejarz, he says, "Technology has and will continue to have an impact on how we live our lives. In art education and technology will continue to have a profound effect on the teaching of art."He says that using technology to demonstrate teaching and learning is the best way for educators to prove that they are using technology to enhance teaching and learning."

I've been involved in the docent program at the St.Louis Art Museum for well over 30 years and have noticed that new technology has made a drastic difference in the teaching methods used to train the docents as well as the methods of giving a tour. One can see on the internet in ten minutes what might take two hours to see at the museum and so educators are challenged with getting the audience to have a fulfilling experience that is more than a slide lecture or internet viewing.

Mike Murawski, the school service director at the museum, talks of diversity - not just of race issues, but of inclusiveness of all peoples in learning. His curriculum for the docent training includes such topics as working with the visually and hearing impaired and working with folks dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. Murawski has even offered to show educators how to use i-pads in getting the message across and has also incorporated using body language to get the audience involved in the experience of seeing visual art.

It's not only the visual arts that have had to deal with the new technology and other new ways of the world. Phil Dunlap, director of education for Jazz St.Louis, says the days of the all school assembly where all grades hear a musical performance are pretty much over. Programs are designed to be age appropriate. In some of the many different school programs offered by Jazz St.Louis, professional musicians come into the schools and in some cases a class might be invited to hear a jazz performance at Jazz at the Bistro.

Dunlap says in our dynamic, fast paced world, web cams are used for a jazz performance and schools across the country can be linked in to see a performance and interact.. He calls this “distance learning”.

Janet Brown, director of education and operations at Dance St Louis, talks of a program where two teaching artists from the Pilabolus Dance Troupe go into a couple of the magnet schools in the city and make videos of their dance techniques so the kids are engaged both mentally and physically. Brown calls this kinesthetic learning . The students learn of the cultures of the people of other countries by watching videos of other troupes such as Ensemble Espanol, or watching live performances of the troupe when they appear in St. Louis.

In a recent article in the New York Times, Kathryn Potts, associate director of the Whitney Museum says, "The big movement right now is experiential learning." Potts is chairwoman of the Whitney's education department. She goes on to say that what museums offer is a unique experience you can't get anywhere else: being in the galleries, meeting artists and understanding their world.

Adam Weinberg, Director of the Whitney,says in the same article, "So often education is a behind-the-scene activity either relegated to a wing by itself or in the basement. But for us education is part and parcel of what we do."

With all this said, I think the arts are not taking a back seat in our technologically advanced culture. Our arts educators are using all the modern advances to help us appreciate all the arts available in our world.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Nancy Kranzberg

Nancy Kranzberg

Arts Aficionado Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for some thirty years. She serves on numerous arts affiliated boards, including The St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park where she is the Co-Chair, The Sheldon Arts Foundation and the Sheldon Art Gallery Board, Jazz at the Bistro, The Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., The Mid American Arts Alliance, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Nancy was named Women of Achievement and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnae Award at Washington University Nancy is a docent at the St. Louis Art Museum and is an honorary docent at Laumeier Sculpture Park. At age 60 she became a Jazz singer. She performs with the Second Half which features Chancellor Tom George on the piano.

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