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Reflections on Afrofuturism & STEAM at SMiH

15 Jan

Here is another piece from the same blog. Last semester, we discuss the impact of STEAM and art advocating. It prompted many papers and debates about the importance of art in education and in general. I think this adds to the discussion and take the topic to the next level. Examine the information presented as well as the sources. My paper/letter* about the program initiative STEAM is below as well for more information. But what are your thoughts on this movement as well as the STEAM project?

 

* Dear Representative Harris,

What is art? According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, art is defined as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.” When the arts are removed from our educational system, we lose these valuable skills and take away a child’s opportunity and dreams. Art saved my life; without it, I would not have been able to obtain my dreams. As your constituent, I call on you to support the success of all students by strengthening arts education in the reauthorizing of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act.

The Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) AKA “No Child Left Behind Act,” was a temporary solution enacted by the Bush Administration in 2001 to address the education crisis of this country. The Lyndon B. Johnson Administration first enacted the ESEA in 1965, as a campaign to combat the “War on Poverty.” The act was later amended in 1994, with the premise of higher standards for children, more community, family, teacher interactions, and resources targeting the areas of the “greatest needs.” This brings the education debate to 2013 with Representative George Miller’s Amendment to the H.R.5.  I request from you, Representative Harris that you support the following provision proposed by Representative Miller:

1) Demand clarification of the allowable uses from Title I funds, for disadvantaged students to use in all core academic subjects, including art education;

2) Guarantee that struggling schools could have greater flexibility with the arts as a turnaround strategy for schools labeled as failing;

3) Include specified support for art education grants in a well-rounded curriculum fund in the U.S. Department of Education;

4) Add art and design into the definition of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program activities, helping to turn STEM into STEAM;

5) Designate the arts as an eligible activity for schools that are seeking expanded learning time (ELT) for their school day.

In addition, I urge that you to strengthen access to learning in the arts by supporting $30 million in funding for the Arts in Education program and reject the effort to terminate this program in the FY14 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.

Why are the arts important for our children?  If not for the arts, I would not be writing this letter. I was born and raised in the inner city of Philadelphia. I grew up in a single parent home and below the poverty line. In my senior year of high school, I was homeless and was motivated to stay in school because of music. I learned to play the flute in the fourth grade at Rowen Elementary public school. Music allowed me to escape from my surrounding and nurtured my dream of getting out of poverty. I stand as a college graduate, current graduate student, and an artist, due to the encouragement and motivations of my art teachers and art. Art saved my life; without it I would not be the successful, well-rounded person I am today. Please support the Arts and the future of our children!*

Renegade Futurism

The so called fine artist realizes, those of us who have freed ourselves, that our creations need not emulate the white man’s, but it is time the engineers, architects, chemists, electronics craftsmen, i.e. film too, radio, sound, etc., that learning western technology must not be the end of our understanding of the particular discipline we’re involved in. Most of that west shaped information is like mud and sand when you’re panning for gold! –Amiri Baraka, “Technology & Ethos” in Amistad 2, 1970

Last Thursday I moderated an artist panel at The Studio Museum in Harlem. My rationale for moderating Enlightenment, Strange Mathematics and Rhythmic Equations was two-fold. The first objective was to place contemporary, interdisciplinary artists in dialogue around the idiosyncratic notions of Sun Ra and other pioneers of afrofuturism, a framework for freedom of expression.

Tasked to reflect on afrofuturism in Africa Tegan Bristow writes, “The…

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