This is our first blog following the first conference on Creative Arts Integration in Ghana's Basic Education. It was held at the Central Campus Hall, University of Education, Winneba, on Friday June 5, 2009 from 8.00am-5.00pm. 130 teachers, pre-service teachers, teacher educators, artists and administrators were in attendance. Thank you all for attending.
The website for the conference is hosted at: www.creativearts.umn.edu.
During the sessions we agreed that conversations needed to continue beyond the conference. If the arts are to secure a firm place in education, we need to flesh out issues as they arise, suggest solutions to anticipated problems and encourage creativity, innovation and invention in our classrooms. Access, what teachers receive, equity, what are fair and just expectations of an arts education program, and quality, the degree of excellence or standards are central to creative arts curricula discussions. Integrating arts is logical because arts expressions in Africa are most often integrated; that is, the arts (music, dance, drama, visual arts, and language arts) are practiced in relation to one another. Education is critical to future economic growth and lasting democracy leading to greater stability and improved standards of living.
As we begin our discussions let us keep access, equity and quality in the forefront of our minds. Let us consider the level of participation in opportunities for practice, experiences and skills for educators, because participation will impact knowledge discovery and advancement (access). Secondly we need to consider the level of transparency in the challenges teachers face because these shape their conceptions and perceptions of arts in education (equity). Finally, we will address the degree of excellence or standards of teacher education processes and socialization for public good (quality).
The genesis of this blog is in a collaborative research, curriculum development and implementation project that addressed arts integration in international teacher education conducted during my sabbatical year (2008-2009) at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa. The central question for the study was: How can arts education be practically tied to economic growth in Africa, as is required by new national mandates? The project included exploratory and evaluative surveys, teaching arts integration in higher education, and an arts teaching and learning conference. My key collaborators were: Dr. Richard Amuah, Head of Department of Music, University of Cape Coast, Prof. James Flolu, Dean of Faculty of Arts, and Dr. Mary Dzansi-McPalm, Music education, both of the University of Education, Winneba.
We invite our conference participants and the international community of artists, arts educators, teacher educators, and administrators to participate in the dialogue on arts teaching and learning for development. This international dialogue will increase transnational arts communication and understanding among educators and artists. Each time you contribute please let us know your institutions and country.
Let's chat.... Akosua Addo (University of Minnesota, USA)