Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Expect the Unexpected...

It's been a busy past few weeks, and a definite test of my ability to go with the flow. I FINALLY finished up my finals for this semester (agonizing but well worth it), which was a huge relief. I had planned a holiday party for Saturday 12/19, but as many of you know, Brooklyn (and most of NYC) got an insane snowstorm on Saturday, which kept many of my party guests from attending. A special thanks to the troopers who braved the storm to make it to my party! It was a small group, but I got the chance to reunite with some of my Miss NY sisters, and make cards to be donated to a NY shelter. The cards were a fun and inexpensive way to send a little holiday cheer to a fellow New Yorker who was down on their luck. Many soup kitchens, nursing homes and hospitals will welcome these thoughtful gifts, so go on- host your own holiday card party!

If you're looking for a last minute way to give without breaking the bank this holiday season, please consider the Brooklyn Public Library's Adopt-A- Book program! For as low as $5.99, you can purchase a new book to be put on the shelves of a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library! If you'd like, you can pick out which book you donate, or if you don't have a preference, you can simply make a dontation and the library will purchase a needed selection!

Warmest Holiday Wishes!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Stocking Project with Services for the Underserved AND Photo Shoot with MoDeZinz

The holiday season is officially upon us! As if this time of year weren't hectic enough, it's also finals time for those of us in school! My schedule has been insane, but in a good way! I've had a lot of really great opportunities in the past few weeks, and though I'm a trifle overwhelmed, I'm certainly grateful!

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I participated in Services for the Underserved's Holiday Stocking Drive- this year contributing two stockings-one from me, one from my mom (pictured above) for two adults living with developmental disabilities. It's pretty amazing how easy and affordable (my stocking and it's contents totaled $15) it can be to extend a gesture of kindness to a stranger in need.

I traveled upstate to visit my family for Thanksgiving, and while I was there, I had the opportunity to reunite with Monica Dodge, an old friend who has become a gifted photographer in the years since I last saw her. We did a quick shoot, and incorporated some Miss Brooklyn elements (crown, sash and my Miss NY gown). Below are a few of the photos from the shoot! Be sure to check out the rest of her work at www.modezinz.com


It was so nice to spend a few days with my mom and sisters on my trip upstate. My family and I have gotten into the tradition of finding a project to volunteer for on the holidays, and it serves as a wonderful reminder of all we have to be thankful for. On Thanksgiving day, my sisters and I, our boyfriends and my mom headed to Schenectady to help out at the City Mission. We joined the assembly line and helped stuff and wrap over 100 care packages, to be distributed to a local apartment complex that houses individuals and families with a variety of special circumstances.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as enjoyable as mine, and I look forward to updating you on some exciting opportunities and events coming up involving arts education!



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Article from the Harvard Crimson

Project Zero Returns to Square One of Artistic Education

“Everybody assumes that to be a scientist or a mathematician requires thinking and problem solving and so on. But a lot of people assume the arts are just a matter of inspiration, or God giving you a message, or primarily about emotions,” says Howard E. Gardner, a former co-director and one of twelve Principal Investigators of Project Zero, a research group at the Graduate School of Education.

Founded by philosopher Nelson Goodman in 1967, Project Zero claims its mission is “to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines.” In the aftermath of the success of the Soviet Sputnik space program, Americans focused on determining ways in which people in the scientific disciplines learned. Project Zero was created in response to this move to emphasize scientific instruction, which its founders felt unfairly ignored learning through the arts. The group’s name refers to Goodman’s belief that nothing—or “zero”—had then been established about how learning happens in the arts. Goodman accepted an offer to run Project Zero with the idea that it would combat assumptions about artistic practice and ameliorate the lack of rigor in cognitive investigations of arts education.

Many of the major ideas which emerged from Project Zero in its first two decades of existence were a result of its focus on the arts, which in turn greatly influenced the field of arts education. One of these theories, developed during the mid-1980s, is that of “teaching for understanding.” This idea draws on an inherent characteristic of the arts, as it suggests that individuals demonstrate true understanding of a concept only when they are able to put it into action. “It borrows the idea of performance from the arts. It says, ‘It’s not what you know, but what you can do with what you know,’” says Shari Tishman, the current Director of Project Zero.

These concepts began Project Zero’s transformation from what had been a primarily theoretical enterprise into a more applied, hands-on organization. “I guess my sense is that Project Zero has always been interested in that line between—the bridge between—theory and practice,” says Principal Investigator Mara Krechevsky.

More recently, this emphasis on application has grown to encompass many of the toughest questions in education today, both arts-related and not. Much of their current research, such as teaching children to understand complex causality, can be applied across a number of subjects. Principal Investigator Tina A. Grotzer provides an example of the latter: “Kids come into the cafeteria, and they talk a little louder to be heard over the person next to them…and pretty soon the lunch lady’s yelling at them. They’re all upset because it’s not their fault…their intentions are just to be heard,” she says.

Grotzer explains that this situation provides an analogy for the current state of climate change, which has escalated to a dangerous degree because of the cumulative effects of heedless individual actions.
“It’s taking those understandings that kids have today and helping them live better in the world they’re going to live in tomorrow,” she says.

Though Project Zero has broadened its scope significantly in recent years, it has not lost sight of its roots in the arts and how arts-oriented programs can contribute to improving the future, specifically that of education.
“I’m personally very interested in looking at how art can help young people understand the power of thinking,” says Tishman, the Principal Investigator of Artful Thinking. Artful Thinking was developed to help teachers integrate art into the classroom, and to use analytical thinking about art to encourage similar ways of thinking in other subjects. The “Artful Thinking Palette,” which includes concepts such as “reasoning,” “comparing” and “finding complexity,” suggests a number of aspects of thinking which art may help cultivate.

According to Gardner, Project Zero is constantly looking ahead to the future of education. “We need to have entities that try to imagine what education could be like, instead of tinkering at the edges,” he says. The group’s progressive perspective has led it to identify globalization, the digital revolution, and the biological revolution (the rapidly changing understanding of how the brain functions), as three important points that will transform education for this generation of students.

“Clearly the digital revolution makes possible new media. In terms of Project Zero, one of the things we’ve learned from the digital revolution is that we can’t just think of canonical art forms—dance, theater; we have to think of other art forms that are arising because of digital possibilities,” Tishman says. “The digital revolution makes possible certain kinds of tools that provide opportunities to engage in the arts much more widely and in different ways.”

While the foundational focus on the arts has contributed to the formulation of its larger theories, ultimately the goal of Project Zero is to advance education as a whole.

“When you’re saying there is this whole bunch of things that people need to learn, and they need to learn them well, and all these diverse students need to be able to learn them well, it’s like trying to plant a field without having the seeds,” Grotzer says. “You have to know what to do to nourish them, to make them grow. Unless you know what to do on the ground, you aren’t going to change education.”