Saturday, March 3, 2018

Indiana Youth Art Month 2018!

My sincerest appreciation to 2018 Indiana Youth Art Month Co-Chairs Carrie Billman and Shayla Fish along with AEAI President Mary Sorrels, our fabulous YAM Volunteers, the hardworking events coordinators Terry and Ned at the Indiana State Capitol, AMACO-Brent's receiving specialists Dale and J.C. and our keynotes, Indianapolis WFYI Radio Host Matthew Socey and Nashville, Tennessee based singer-songwriter Caroline McKinney!

Here are some pics of the event and my remarks to the audience:


Art class is the best way for children to experience creativity at school.

Fine Arts experience can excite the child's emotional realm and strengthen neurological systems while providing opportunities for creative self expression!.

Inside the body’s nervous system, myelin..a fatty protein that covers connecting axons between nerve cells, expands during these special learning events.

What does this mean? It means memory systems and action impulses work faster inside your brain, improving  the mind’s capacity to learn and think.

There is an immense amount of historical and biological evidence that reveals learning through the visual arts is vital to children’s cognitive development.

Five years ago, I remember speaking with a 7 year old child.

She was stretching packing tape over her wet tempera painting.

I asked her what she was doing.

She said, “I’m making shiny surface art.”

I said, that's fascinating!

She wrote in her journal, “ Art is a part of being creative. When you’re creative, you’re doing better than you are when you’re not.”

I thought to myself, “Why is she doing better when she is creative in school, than when she is not being creative in school?”

Think about this.

During critical phases of cognitive development, mental operations are realized primarily as a result of a child's interactions with the World around them.

There is a biological reason human beings are endowed with hands.

The hands are the key to intellectual growth!

Sadly, many children in the United States don’t attend schools where fine arts exist.

Compounding matters, there are scary trends in education today.

Among certain policy makers, there is this idea that tethering young children to digital screens and tasking them to select answers on multiple choice questions... is somehow a quality education.

I am here to tell you that finger taps on a flat, two dimensional screen, hardly passes as multi-sensory experience.

A school day consisting of screen-based learning is great for collecting numerical data but blunts participation in an abundant curricula. The worst case scenario? Excessive use of digital media introduced by the state during a child's formative development will increase the likelihood that child may become addicted to digital screens.

Seven years ago the Art Education Association of Indiana surveyed its members. We found 60 instances where arts programs were cut.

In 2010, Purdue University art education professor Robert Sabol surveyed over 3400 art teachers from across the United States.

A summary of the findings?

Children’s visual arts and creative learning experiences are being sacrificed on the altar of data collection and standardized testing.

I was admiring this years Youth Art Month exhibition earlier and I have to tell you it is a spectacular visual experience.

The children's art reveals they are developing special powers of creativity.

These children are fortunate to have families, teachers, administrators and communities who support their creative development and school art experiences.

As a parent or citizen advocate you have a powerful voice! I urge you to advocate for children’s art programs when you can. Send local, state or federal policy makers a loud and clear message either face to face, by telephone, snail mail or email to adequately fund and preserve fine arts programs for all children!

We cannot afford future failures of imagination!

I thank you!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Heroes of Indiana Youth Art Month 2016

There are so many folks to thank for participating in AEAI's annual Youth Art Month advocacy extravaganza at the Indiana State Capitol each year. First of all, to the art teachers and children who participate in the event or a local event in their community, the AEAI thanks you! To think that Indiana citizens and lawmakers are surrounded by K-12 student art work during the month of March and to ponder the importance of K-12 art education programs in the lives of children, Youth Art Month is an event that has profound implications not just for art teachers and their students who participate and attend the event but for art programs all across the State of Indiana.

I'd like to share some photos of the folks who make the event at the Indiana State Capitol possible each year.

Dale and JC of AMACO who store and care for the AEAI display boards at AMACO/BRENT on Indianapolis' North East Side!
Dave Allen set up the boards!
Glenda Ritz, Brad Venable and Margerie Manifold assessed and selected art works for recognition!
Parents and students attending the event pack the North Atrium of the Indiana State Capitol!
Parents, students and their families view the exhibit in the South Atrium!
New Palestine High School Art Student Will Burgess stands with AEAI Past President Sidney Allen and IN State Superintendent Glenda Ritz!
AEAI President Jill Sayers, President Elect Mary Sorrels and Past President Sidney Allen who are awarding student recognition awards in this photo, organized our YAM event this year!
Group photo with Superintendent Ritz!
Visitors enjoy the spectacular YAM student art work throughout the month of March.
Take-down volunteers, Ashley Toy and Mary Lou DaWald re-pack the display boards at the YAM exhibit with the help of Mark.
Robin Webb and Mark collect and sort remaining art from the 2016 YAM exhibit. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

YAM 2016 Remarks

Greetings to all of YAM participants, to all their Families and to all their Teachers!

I am honored to stand here once again in this great building and share with you critical knowledge on the importance of art education in Indiana Schools.  

This is my 32nd year of teaching art in our State.

My first teaching position was at School #74 at Theodore Potter Elementary off of 10th Street about 2 miles East of here. I remember the children came in once a week for 50 minutes of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking... mural making...I remember many times when class was nearly over and it was time to clean up, the children would say in unision….. “Nooooooo….we don’t want to go yet.”

During art making, the children were in states of flow, a psychologically powerful mindset where one becomes intensely focused on the act of creation. They didn’t want to return to their regular classrooms. Why is that?

I’ve had other art teachers tell me the same thing about their students. Many times, they don’t want to leave the art room.

There is something special about the subject of art and art making. What is it?

Could it be that art is the first language of human beings?

If you ask me if I think art and creativity is biologically innate in all human beings... I will tell you ‘yes.’

One of my favorite works of art are the pre-historic cave paintings in Lascaux, France, discovered in 1940 by 3 boys.....have you seen images before? The cave walls are covered with these large painted and etched animal images, horses, antelope, bison, but they are dominated with images of bulls. Why was that? What is it about the hall of bulls in these paintings?

The bulls around the time of the Lascaux cave artists, were not like Indiana farm cattle of today. These bulls were Aurochs, nearly twice the size as domesticated bulls. Three thousand pounds, Over six feet at the shoulder with horns over 3 feet wide. These bulls were roaming the countryside where the Lascaux cave artists lived….and if you ran into one? Hope you were a fast runner.….What the artists of Lascaux were doing was telling the story of the beauty and danger that existed in their lives on those cave walls…

What artists were doing back then is essentially what they do today.

Observing, envisioning, recording, experimenting, making meaning out of shared experiences, their lives and their stories through art.

Today...Quality Art education supports the telling of children’s stories. It is empowering. It empowers.

Thinking about a child’s formative school years, the experiences that determine the intellectual capacities utilized during adulthood...  in a democracy….the kinds of learning experiences children have in our schools should prepare them for civic participation.

Is the curricula an abundant curricula that includes regular opportunities for self expression? Self-empowerment? Or is the curricula narrow and scarce. Restrictive.

Not just in what subjects are taught, but how it is taught and how learning is experienced from the child’s perspective!

When we consider that children spend upwards of 15,000 to 16,000 hours of their formative years in K-12 school settings we need to look carefully at the curriculum, the psychology of learning and the totality of that experience. Curriculum is, a mind-altering device.
Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, myself and New Palestine High School Art Student Will Burgess.
Parents and citizens should ask themselves this question: Should the education, the curricula in schools today, prepare children to participate in the World’s most important democracy?

Do we offer children extensive experiences that heighten the capacity for self-empowerment and self-expression? These are the kinds of learning experiences that are the bread and butter of art education. Quality art educational experiences are democratic.

In our schools of course we teach about democracy, but outside art education classrooms do we actually offer children experience that is democratic? One where children have time and space to develop and integrate a heightened awareness of self and other human beings into their consciousness?

Or are they competing against each other for test scores?

Do we educate children for democracy or do we educate them for something else?

If current curricula offerings and school experiences are adequate, why is voter turnout for 18-25 year olds in the State of Indiana so abysmally low despite having the eligibility to vote?

Voter turnout for our state general election of 2014 was a national low of 27.8%. Voter turnout in the 2015 state-wide municipal elections was 20.5%.

Ladies and gentleman, you cannot educate children using authoritarian methods and expect them to practice and participate in democracy as adults.

Quality art education fundamentally supports democratic educational principles of self-empowerment and self-actualization and I want to introduce to you our next speaker.

A champion of art education, a National Board Certified Teacher, elected by 1.3 million Indiana Voters, Our superintendent of Public Schools, Glenda Ritz!

Photo by Kevin Schulz.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Be A Part Of The Most Important Indiana Art Advocacy Event of 2016!

There is still time to prepare student work and send it in before the 2016 Youth Art Month Celebration at the Indiana State Capitol. Consider being a part of the most important art advocacy event for educators in the 2016 school year! Pick out 5 works of your students art and prepare them for exhibition on February 28th:
See you at the Indiana State Capitol!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fine Art Experience Essential Except As Indiana Graduation Requirement

Indiana Board of Education endorses fine arts experiences for pre-school children, but may develop policies from the Indiana Career Council that result in the decimation of K-12 fine arts programs across the state.
As written in the 2012 FOUNDATIONS to the Indiana Academic Standards for Young Children from Birth to Age 5, art and music are essential foundational experiences for the educational development of young children:

"Fine arts engage children’s minds, bodies, and senses and invite children to listen, observe, discuss, move, solve problems, and imagine using multiple modes of thought and self-expression." (pg. 207)

"Fine arts curricula provide ways for young children to learn and use skills in other content areas, such as literacy, math, social studies, science, social skills, and creative thinking." (pg. 207)

Offering fine arts as an "option" to fulfill graduation requirements, the State will situate the fine arts as a non-essential learning experience.

Administrators serving school districts with limited funding are further motivated to cut or eliminate educational programs not related to standardized high stakes testing.

In this era of austerity, placing music, visual arts, theatre and dance as provisional subject areas will further exacerbate the de-humanization of K-12 learning environments.

Fine arts experience is ok in Pre-K, but not K-12?

You can contact your Indiana State Board of Education here:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Testimony to Indiana Legislative Study Committee, Oct. 19th 2015

Good Evening Senator Kruse and Members of the Education Study Committee.

My name is Clyde Gaw. I am the Advocacy Chair for the Art Education Association of Indiana and also volunteer as the chair of the Youth and Education Committee for the Community Alliance of the Far Eastside of Indianapolis.

The question this committee needs to ask itself, is the teacher shortage indicative of a larger problem as a result of the policies you have mandated for Indiana classrooms?

A causal relationship from high stakes standardized assessments related to the teacher shortage has been established here. The intensification of testing has lead to learning experiences that are centered primarily on tests.

Photo by Indiana State Representative Melanie Wright

Let’s talk about the psychology of instruction teachers must utilize in order to prepare students for these tests.

What I have observed in 32 years of classroom experience, is that teachers employ curriculum experiences around an instructional psychology related to radical behaviorism.

Now, I like Representative Vernon Smith, but I do not agree with Representative Smith that children are blank slates (He stated earlier that children are “blank slates”). Children are anything but blank slates. Children are born into this world with a unique set of neuro-cognitive capacities and innate endowment. According to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 deal with mental illness. Teachers face heterogeneous learning groups in their classrooms but the state treats them as homogeneous cohorts.

When you drive the cold hard spike of inappropriate pressure into the malleable mind of a child there is a price to pay. That price is disengagement. Look at the Gallup Poll of student engagement. Look at the High School Survey of Student engagement.

Look at citizen engagement. Indiana’s voting turnout of 28% in the last election is abysmal.
If you want citizens to disengage from their civic duties, disengage them as children.

A child’s first experience with their government is in the classroom with their teacher. That experience is primarily Pavlovian.

Why are we having a teacher shortage? Why would anyone want to return to the scene of the crime?

Experiences in classrooms today as a result of standardized testing are anything but democratic.
I thank you for your time.

Screen grab of TABLE 4 by Tom File for U.S. Census Bureau, 2014

41.1 percent of Indiana's young adults between 18-29 years old vote.

Screen grab of graph from Pew Research reveals US voter turnout for the 2012 general election of 53.6% lags behind the rest of the World.

References: Healey, Jane, Endangered Minds, 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Indiana High School Graduation Requirements: Recipe For Radical Behaviorism

Carl Sagan once said, "We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology in which hardly nobody knows anything about science and technology."

Is it any coincidence Indiana policymakers offer no conception of the human mind for which they prescribe educational experience?

The Indiana Career Council's new high school diploma requirements are top heavy in mathematics and language arts. These subject areas constitute the bulk of curricular experience across Indiana schools and are assessed through deified standardized hi-stakes testing assessments. Powerful influencers of education policy with no experience in classrooms who place numerical values on student's educational growth see no problem coercing children into narrowed curricula experiences that are essentially rehearsals for more standardized tests.

Standardized testing is not a benign process. Testing shapes curriculum. Curriculum affects development of a child's formative mind.

There is no definitive research on the level's of toxic stress children experience in schools, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest stress levels are significant.

It is quite evident the new diploma requirements, influenced by business entities desirous of supplying corporations with compliant workers, have fashioned a diploma structure that supports the needs of a capitalist-state and reaffirms a command and control structure of “doing to” children instead of providing pathways for individuals to control their own educational destiny with democratic learning opportunities utilizing their own curricula designs.

The new requirements represent a continuation of “banking education” where children are viewed as passive recipients of knowledge. In Indiana, policymakers don’t care if the cold hard spike of inappropriate pressure is driven into the malleable minds of children utilizing high stakes standardized tests and test driven curricula. Sound far-fetched?

When there are winners and losers in an A-F system that weighs educational growth like meat on a butcher’s scale nor takes into account variables outside the child's daily schooling experience, there is a price to pay.

Radical behaviorism as an instructional psychology is a common psychological experience that children experience during their formative years in Indiana schools. How does the state account for SERIOUS mental illness rates exceeding 4% of Indiana’s population?

Consider that Indiana has the second highest rate of juvenile suicide attempts in the US:

From 2006-’11, 1,137 children aged 10-14 took their own lives and from 2006-’11, 21,598 teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 took their own lives:

There is no provision for individual learning pathways in the new high school diploma requirements. Subject areas that provide humanistic learning experiences, the fine arts in particular, “may” be provided by an institution offering diploma accreditation status.

What concerned Hoosier citizens have witnessed over the past decade and a half in their schools is a narrowing of children’s curricula offerings and intensification of experience centered on lifeless multiple-’choice’ questions designed to confuse learners with distractor answers. Dyslexic readers, sufferers of other physiological conditions, mental illness or attention deficits that might lead to confused thinking while participating in timed, high stakes standardized tests, may be regarded as collateral damage while the state determines who the winners and losers are in the next graduation cohort.

Is the purpose of education to provide opportunities for the development of the self or the development of the corporate-state? It is my analysis, the new Indiana high school diploma requirements do not provide alternative pathways for children to integrate creativity or self-determined educational experience into their consciousness, but are road maps to more testing, more radical behaviorism, more de-professionalization of teachers and more privatization of public education.

You can view these documents and comment on them here: 

Clyde Gaw