Friday, May 21, 2010

TEDxDUMBO- Empire State Partnership's Spring Symposium

When you're a teaching artist, professional development days can be pretty awesome. In the past year, I've attended 4 or 5 conferences, but TEDxDUMBO- the Empire State Partnership's Spring Symposium took the cake. 

The event took place yesterday morning in my new favorite performance space in NYC, Galapagos Art Space

We started off with breakfast from Foragers in Brooklyn- YUM, and live music from the house band kept us entertained during down-time throughout the day. 

No, this isn't a Saturday night out, it's 9:30a on Thursday morning, and it's for work... Awesome.

Instead of the traditional elective breakouts, TEDxDUMBO included a series of short presentations, so everyone got to see everything, rather than picking and choosing which seminars to attend. I really liked this format- the presentations included a nice mix of TED Talks, live performances and interesting lectures, and the day seemed to fly by. 

I took 11 pages of notes. True story. Can you tell I'm a word person? It was just that inspirational of a day. I'll spare you the tedious details of my mini-novel of thoughts, but here were of my most poignant standouts of the day. 

The student performances were amazing. Hope Mayes (pictured with me below) from Bronx High School for Writing and Communication arts at Joshua Ramos-Diaz from City-As-School shared their talents (Hope is an actor, Joshua a poet), and spoke about the impact arts in school had on their lives. 

With Hope Mays, who performed a monologue called "Ms. Sun"

Rene Cloutier, Principal of PS 7x, spoke about the tremendous expectations that our society and education system places on very young students, and stressed the importance of process vs. product driven arts opportunities. 

Philip Courtney, Executive Director of Urban Arts Partnerships, spoke about the industrial nature of our education system, which was designed to manage risks rather than take them.  

Regardless of how many times I watch Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk, I get the same profoundly-inspired tingly feeling after every viewing. It's one of those speeches that is so layered, so rich with truths and meaning that you notice something new each time. One of my favorite motifs Robinson uses is his comparison of public education to strip mining- "Education has mined our minds", he says, much like strip mining utilizes land- for a very specific commodity, with little regard to the rest of the rich resources present. We MUST adapt the way we educate our kids to ensure that we're developing and nurturing ALL of our student's aptitudes. 

Making postcards for the NYC AIE Roundtable's Art for Art fundaiser.

Lunch by Brooklyn Fare was delicious! The house band continued to play, and as attendees mingled and ate, art supplies were passed out and everyone was encouraged to create postcards to be sold to benefit the NYC AIE Roundtable's Art for Art fundraiser. Free dance lessons were offered on stage, and information was passed out about the Fundred Truck Project, coming to Queens and Brooklyn in early June!

Cupcakes to end the day!!!

Cupcakes from Baked were the perfect end to an awesome conference. Congratulations to the planning committee for an amazing day!