Teaching In The 21st Century

As we embark on the second decade of the 21st century we are laying the foundation for the rest of the century as we move from  the Industrial/Mechanical Age to a Technological/Conceptual Age. The dominate form of media is moving from the literary (written) form to the visual form, through television, video games, and the Internet. This is much the same as the pattern where we moved from the oral to the literate as a dominate form of media with the advent of the printing press. The VCR processing style of the literary media form  was replaced by a DVD processing style of the new digital media form, reflecting multi-level interconnected processing skills. This suggests a new type of literacy, a digital literacy or “electracy”. The artistic process offers a communication link to bridge the gap between these visual and literary worlds.

This will require new methods of teaching that include more visual and entertaining methods to get the information across effectively. The need for enhanced arts education is clear, as the arts are a powerful tool that can encourage adaptability, enhance creativity and strengthen critical thinking skills. Students must be able to take in a vast amount of information and process it in an innovative and productive way. Creative arts encourage adaptability, confidence and teach improvisational skills that will be vital to compete in the new global economy. With the addition of arts in the classroom students are able to use multiple intelligences to fully grasp material and have a creative outlet to express their own passions and  ideas.

Arts integration into the classroom originates with teachers who model and teach using Multiple Intelligences, Emotional Intelligences, and aesthetic understanding of the artistic process. Teaching professionals must have access to the highest quality arts instruction in order to pass on the academic and artistic education students will need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow. No longer will academic, analytical skills be enough to ensure success. Creative innovative thinking is necessary to keep the United States competitive. Teachers are the conduit to this training, and so deserve the highest quality arts education as well in their academic and curriculum training. Arts specialists can be a powerful support as arts education is enhanced in our schools and each art discipline should be represented to ensure a full arts education.

We are in the midst of a period of exciting new technological advancements that are bringing rapid change to every aspect of our lives. Tomorrow’s workers will require a rich blend of highly developed analytical skills and creative ingenuity and today’s teachers must model those skills. As our education system responds to these needs, it is imperative that arts education is given an equal place to the other academic disciplines. We are in the midst of a digital revolution, and the artistic process provides tools of contemplation, observation, and human interaction that are necessary to counteract the negative influences of the technological advances.

About Patricia Strickland

Patricia Strickland currently heads the Theater Department at a private high school in Ventura, California. Patti has a passion for empowering youth, and she is committed to the idea that teaching children to think creatively and globally is a critical element needed in order to foster the skills that will maintain economic competitiveness in tomorrow’s marketplace. She is currently exploring methods to introduce more emotional and artistic literacy into the educational system, working enthusiastically with fellow educators to create cross-curricular projects. Patti is an accomplished actress and director, is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and holds a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies from NYIT and a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University.

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