Posts Tagged 'education'

Church, History, Education: What’s the relationship? #ISTE2015

I arrived in Philadelphia for the annual #iste2015 educational conference to facilitate a blended learning workshop. Having taught history earlier in my career, I always enjoy taking in the local history. On Sunday morning, I decided to attend church at Christ Church, known as the “the Nation’s Church” since it was built in 1744, seven of the signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in the nearby burial grounds and it was the church attended by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Betsy Ross among others. The 9:00am Episcopalian service was attended by about 100 people and was officiated by the Rev. Susan Richardson.

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The Rev. Richardson began her sermon with “It’s been a hell of a week!” First, she talked about the tragic killing of 9 people at the Charleston Emanuel African American Methodist Episcopal church and the inspirational eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney and singing of “Amazing Grace” by President Barack Obama. Next she discussed the senseless terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France. Then she discussed the decisions of the Supreme Court this past week. First, on Thursday, the decision of the court to “keep the Affordable Care Act on the table”so that millions of Americans would not suddenly lose their health care. Then, the historic decision on Friday that struck down state bans on same sex marriage. And then, in the Episcopal Church, they elect a “presiding Bishop” every nine years. Bishop Michael Curry was the first African American Bishop elected in the Episcopal Church and he is following the first female Bishop elected by an Anglican church.

She then turned our attention to the Bible reading of the day, which was the story of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and touched the cloak of Jesus Christ and was then healed (Mark 5:21-43).  The Rev. Richardson then asked rhetorically, “so what is the connection between the events of the past week and this reading?” She went on to explain that we are all human and that we seek connectedness and relationships with others.

As an educator, Catholic, father and as a gay man, I could not have agreed with her message more. Life really is about being human, connecting to others and relationships. Good educational leaders know that relationships built with colleagues causes others to think and transform in new ways – especially in the field of educational technology, blended learning and online learning. Good teachers also know that the best way to impact student learning is by building relationships with each individual student, learning about the interests and abilities of each individual student and then challenging them where they are at.

The message of Rev. Susan Richardson in Christ Church in Philadelphia almost 250 years after its founding validates the progress that has been made in America. It also illustrates the importance of valuing each person and respecting their opinion, while at the same time valuing the discourse. It took many years before the Declaration of Independence was shared for the first time on July 4, 1774. The Declaration was written and debated and developed for many years before it was officially proclaimed. In order for that to happen, there was much compromise, connectedness and relationship building.

Even more important today, for American society, churches and schools to remain viable, our relationships with one another, how we are each human, our ability to connect with one another as well as respect one another for who we are and where we are each at – are important qualities that lead to a successful nation, successful churches and successful schools.

Final Reflections on #MuseumCamp2014

As I have mentioned before, I am an educator and my expertise is in the field of online and blended learning and school libraries. When I originally say the “Museum Camp”  notice in my local city with the theme of “social impact assessment”, I thought it would be interesting to participate. Everyone attending had to apply and on top of that, there was a fee to attend. I felt honored to be accepted. Now, having attended Museum Camp, I have gained even more insight into the world of museums and the arts and how they enhance all of our lives. I enjoy visiting museums wherever I travel and also enjoy performing arts events. I have never been an “artist” in the sense of painting or drawing or designing things but certainly appreciate people that are.

As I have mentioned in other blogposts here,  here and here, as part of Museum Camp at the Santa Cruz MAH we were put into groups of 4 and guided to complete some type of experiment or treatment to a place in Santa Cruz, Ca. The experiment had to somehow measure social impact of the location or treatment of the location. At the conclusion of the camp, there was a time for reflection by everyone who attended. The various reflections that were shared included:

  • Small, simple adjustments to space can have big impacts (in the picture below, our group simply used colored masking tape to change a space and then observed this)
  • Thinking about how to assess an art installation or art exhibit is good to do ahead of time
  • The data collected in assessing an art installation is important to share with the community  and members of the museum community (note this mural installation in Brooklyn, NY that helped to reduce crime in the area)
  • Arts and museum programs do impact communities in a positive way especially when the museum and art programs involve the community

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My personal reflections include:

  • Museum and art professionals are passionate and intense individuals who care deeply about their respective communities (and they are lots of fun, too!)
  • Any art installation such as an exhibit in a museum, a mural on a wall, a community performance or an installation in any public space takes lots of planning ahead of time (including how it fits with the goals of the museum and the overall community). One example of this type of planning is how the Santa Cruz MAH secured a $250,000 Artsplace grant in partnership with the City of Santa Cruz to re-imagine Abbott Square.
  • Assessing the social impact of the arts is time consuming and expensive. However, when it is undertaken, it yields results that are useful for informing the museum professionals about what is working as well as informing the community about the impact the arts are having. This results in increased funding, grants, and attendance, as well as a community that better appreciates the importance of the arts.
  • Similar to education research, the best arts and museum research is done over time and the results are analyzed and compared from year to year and communicated ongoing with stakeholders.
  • The organization of the Museum Camp could not have been better. The counselors and museum camp staff were all helpful, friendly, and accommodating as each of our groups figured out what we were doing.
  • The “action research” format of Museum Camp is something that should be replicated in other fields, including education, so that those attending actually produce a product of some type. This process caused each of us to understand the social impact assessment process in a much better way than a typical classroom and lecture type of learning. The schedule and process of the event can be found here.

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