TORONTO, August 29, 2006 -- Forty-two artists who present special arts education projects in Ontario schools have gone back to class themselves this week for a new program offered by York University and the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).
They know their art – whether it is music or visual arts, dance or drama. This week, however, they are studying the stages of child and adolescent development, as well as current issues in education such as how to teach in diverse classrooms.
“Many of these artists are established dancers, storytellers, writers, musicians and visual artists who have been taking their art into classes for years,” says Kathleen Gould Lundy, co-director of The Certificate Course in Arts Education, and a course director in York’s Faculties of Education and Fine Arts. “This week we are focusing on what an effective classroom should look like, we are discussing school policies regarding safety, the role that the arts play in education, and we are highlighting examples of successful partnerships between artists and teachers.”
The Certificate Course in Arts Education was co-designed by Lundy, who is teaching much of the course along with her York colleagues in education and fine arts, Belarie Zatzman, associate dean, Faculty of Fine Arts at York, and Steven Campbell, director of community partnerships at the OAC. The OAC’s Artists in Education program supports artists in taking five- or ten-day arts education projects into Ontario schools.
The new certificate course at York has attracted both artists who are new to the OAC program and those who are old hands. For years, Marie-Monique Jean-Gilles has shared with francophone classes her program of storytelling, music and awareness of other cultures, guiding the children as they create their own performances about her stories. Among other topics, Jean-Gilles will speak this week about her “Raconte moi ton histoire” program and what she has learned from teaching in both small northern communities and in Toronto.
The Certificate Course in Arts Education has also attracted young artists who have worked with students from kindergarten to Grade 12 in the past, but perhaps not through OAC. Andrea Nann, a contemporary dance choreographer and performer who is artistic director of Dreamwalker Dance Company, worked in schools for years as a member of the Danny Grossman Dance Company. She plans to be in Toronto classrooms again this year, encouraging students to physically express their emotions about topics such as war, death, or separation. Inouk Touzin, a dynamic Franco-Ontarian actor/director/writer, hopes to “turn on the lights” in students with his “25-hour creation kit” which helps them to shape their ideas and words into short stage plays.
The artists who take the new certificate course – 42 this week, but eventually all 110 on OAC’s Artists in Education roster for schools – are being exposed to a level of professional development that has not been available in Ontario in the past, says Campbell.
“It is the teachers’ responsibility to teach the curriculum in schools but artists enrich the curriculum with their creativity,” says Campbell. “This new certificate course gives artists the tools they need to evaluate if what they are doing in schools is succeeding or not, and teaches them how to improve their programs.”
The Certificate Course in Arts Education is an interdisciplinary model of collaboration between institutions, according to Zatzman. “From exploring the arts as a form of literacy, to examining best practices in arts in education, this certificate reflects contemporary educational practices which provoke questions and acknowledge the complexity of teaching.”
York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 23 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.
The Ontario Arts Council is the province’s primary funding body for professional arts activity. Since 1963, OAC has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts and artists for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2005-2006, OAC funded 1,268 individual artists and 836 organizations for a total of $35.7 million. These grants were of benefit to artists and arts organizations in 253 communities across Ontario.
For more information, visit www.arts.on.ca.
For more information, please contact:
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Ontario Arts Council
416-969-7403 or 1-800-387-0058