Informatics Seminar Series
Winter Quarter 2022

Friday, February 11, 2022

“How the Arts Can Save Education: Transforming Teaching, Learning, and Instruction ”

Erica Halverson
Professor of Curriculum & Instruction
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The age of accountability in education is losing its momentum. Education is in a time of profound change. We are increasingly aware of how learning outside of school provides life-giving opportunities for our most vulnerable kids. The arts—dance, theater, music, the visual arts, and the digital and design arts—offer us a way to reimagine what good learning and teaching are and how to design learning environments that work for all kids. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and exposed ever-present in-equities in education. And though it has been heart-wrenching for teachers, students, and families, the disruption has also offered us the opportunity to fundamentally rethink what education can be. Gloria Ladson-Billings has called for a “hard reset” on education and for us to fundamentally recon-sider the kind of human beings we want to produce. In this talk, I will describe how the arts can save education by providing new models for learning that embrace the social, cultural, and historical assets that kids bring to the classroom. I will also share how an arts-based approach to teaching focuses on risk-taking as the most important aspect of a successful classroom. I offer a framework that leverages how arts practitioners do their work to design learning experiences for all subject areas. Throughout, I use my own arts organization, Whoopensocker, as a model for how to reframe learning as acts of metacognitive representation, identity development, and collaboration—and lots and lots of joy.

E. Halverson is a Professor in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research explores how people learn in and through the arts, which one can read about in her forthcoming book, How the Arts Can Save Education.

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