Archive for October, 2011
I don’t know about you, but I was quite hesitant to hop on the Twitter wagon. Why? I was happy with facebook and saw Twitter simply as a smaller version of the facebook wall page. (This was in addition to thinking, “ I am limited to HOW many characters?”) I was wrong.
Some people use Twitter to post important sharings like, “I am at the store buying milk. It’s skim!” For me, however, I have found myself following different educators, artists (of all kinds), and art educators. (Okay. Without sounding pompous, I follow some celebrities, too.)
Recently, and for quite some time now, there are many in the Twitter world who have been fluttering their wings about two words… “You matter,” while referencing Angela Maiers. So a little digging led me to the fact that Maiers is a technology and education consultant. And I was also led to one of my other web favorites, TED.
With TED, you can find 20-minute video clips online of speakers talking about technology, education, the arts, the environment, etc. And these aren’t just any speakers. They pull at your emotions, make you question yourself and the world, and truly inspire. Angela Maiers’ TED video clip was no exception. My ears perked up at the very beginning not just because she was referencing Milwaukee (a.r.t.’s home), but because you can absolutely feel her stories… you can feel her words. She speaks from a very genuine and authentic place. Unfortunately, a bad airline experience brought her to Milwaukee. (Let’s hope she may read this and will think positive things now instead of negative when hearing MKE in conversation.) Okay. Back to, “You matter.”
Angela, along with the others who were stranded at the Milwaukee airport during bad weather, was not feeling that they were being listened to or acknowledged. In other words, they were being given the run around and the night ahead would consist of sleeping at the airport. Finally, someone working at Mitchell Airport came up to them and with kind words made them feel like they mattered. Oh, how this relates to education… and what a connection to the arts in our schools.
Whether it be visual art, or poetry; dance or music, the arts not only give students a voice that sometimes cannot be expressed with words, but the arts allow for children to feel that they matter. That what they have to say is important and meaningful. The arts give them purpose and praise in a positive light, in addition to being used as a way to communicate.
There is an African saying I often use when in front of a group of students, and I need to get their attention. The teacher/teaching artist says, “Ago.” (pronounced ah-go) The students/little artists respond with, “Ame.” (ah-may) The meaning is the following: “Do you hear me? Yes, I hear you.” Through art, academics can be learned. The magic of arts integration in the classroom can be such an amazing teaching tool. Not only do the arts teach science and math, but students can also become enthusiastic to learn because of art genre(s). But sometimes, the arts are used in a silent way by a young, shy individual who just may be screaming on the inside, “Do you hear me?! Do I matter?” Our children must be heard. Their stories must be told.
Thank you, Twitter, for introducing me to Angela. If it weren’t for you, I would never have been lead to Maier’s passionate words. To Angela… I scream, “Yes.” (While doing a jete, with scarves in hand.) ‘Our’ students matter. They matter in so many ways. We need to be reminded.
And don’t we believe the arts matter?
Dance and love,
Christina M. Ratatori, a.r.t. founding director