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

Monday, March 2, 2015

INDIANA Youth Art Month Celebration 2015

Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.” George Washington Carver

Suzanne Whitton and colleague Dacia set up boards on Saturday morning before the big event!

Sidney Allen with help of a friend secures art exhibition boards on Saturday morning.

Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz arrives Sunday morning to assess 180 art works.
Students depict Velazquez great painting, "Los Meninas."

Suzanne Whitton introduces AEAI President Jill Sayers.
Students and parents examine high school art.
Students take group photographs with Supt. Ritz.

Crowd enjoys student art and refreshments in the South Atrium of the Indiana State Capitol Building.

Art enthusiasts enjoy the exhibit!

YAM Chair and 2013 Indiana Teacher of the Year Suzanne Whitton discusses program details with AEAI President Elect Mary Sorrels and AEAI President Jill Sayers.

Remarks to YAM attendees and introduction of Indiana Supt. of Public Education Glenda Ritz: 

The Art Education Association of Indiana would like to thank you all for coming out today!

Celebrating learning in the arts is one of the most important things communities can do to encourage their youngest citizen’s educational success.

I’d like to share with you a story about a great American.

This American was born into slavery during the Civil War in the state of Missouri.

When George Washington Carver was a baby boy, he and his mother were kidnapped by Confederate raiders.

He survived this tragedy, but his mother was never seen nor heard from again.

As a young boy, this great American was at risk to live a short, cruel and harsh life.

Fortunately, Carver’s adopted family encouraged his natural inclinations for creativity. After completing his chores on the farm where he lived the young boy took walks through the South West Missouri countryside.

Young Carver collected all kinds of plants and other objects from nature.

He often made drawings of his plants and he became very good at painting.

Drawing and painting was an activity that fueled the young man’s intellect and his love of learning and he amazed his community with his art and his scientific understanding of plants.

He was encouraged to pursue higher learning and enrolled in the art and music program at Simpson College. Carver’s art teacher, Miss Etta Budd, recognized this great American’s artistic genius but also realized his contributions to science might be even more significant. She encouraged him to attend Iowa State University where he studied agriculture and botany and would later go on to direct the science department at the world famous Tuskeegee Institute.

George Washington Carver’s work has been impacting American culture for more than a century.  Among his many discoveries and scientific innovations including the invention of peanut butter and hundreds of uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes and other plants, Carver became one of the first pioneers of genetic engineering.

On the development of the mind Carver said: Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.”

What can we learn from George Washington Carver’s extraordinary life? Carver experienced the power of the arts. As a young child, he became very knowledgeable in the science of plants and developed a powerful intellect through the fine arts.

We learn that nurturing that which is distinctive in young children is essential to their intellectual development. Art making has immense psycho-dynamic power to imbue in children the attributes of imagination, observation, intellect and perception that will serve them well into their adulthood.

Think about it.

The only subject in school besides music that is a bonafide medical therapy is art. Art is powerful stuff. Art is science! 95% of the World’s top STEM professionals all have fine arts backgrounds. Art education is a good thing!
Unfortunately, I leave you today with sad news. Throughout our state, we have witnessed art programs cut and creativity development reduced in our public schools. High quality art programs are at risk across this state. Real dollars reaching Indiana classrooms have declined since 2002 by at least 20%.

Our next speaker understands the importance of the arts in the lives of children. In 2011, she ran for Indiana State Superintendent because she saw arts education at risk across the state.

She understood that no one can predict how far an individual child may go in a dynamic school system when understanding educators, using all the resources of the community, including fine arts programs, awakens a child’s imagination and interest, thus releasing the secret ingredient of learning, emotional drive.

Ladies and Gentleman, it is my pleasure to introduce to you our Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz!

Glenda Ritz addresses the crowd on the importance of creativity and art education in the lives of children.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Attention IN Art Teachers: Be A Part of The Most Important Advocacy Event of 2015

If you haven't signed up yet for Youth Art Month, now's the time to do it!

AEAI Youth Art Month Chair and 2013 Indiana Teacher of the Year, Suzanne Whitton and the rest of the AEAI team are planning a wonderful program for this year.  Important dignitaries from the Indiana General Assembly, Department of Education and Indiana State School Board will participate in this event.

Please consider joining us on March 1st at the Indiana State Capitol. Your participation counts!

Select 5 works of art, fill out the application form, follow the delivery instructions and get set for a wonderful time.

From my own experience, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing joyful students and their proud families at this special exhibition event.

See you on March 1st!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Care To Join Me @ Arts Advocacy Day 2015?

Indiana Coalition for the Arts has graciously organized Arts Day again at the Indiana State Capitol on January 27th, 2015. We will be in the halls talking to legislators about the power of the arts to impact learning and change lives. Please consider joining me and other arts advocates as we exercise our right to communicate directly with lawmakers and share with them our concerns about dwindling creative learning experiences for children and the importance of an imaginative and creative citizenry. We cannot afford future failures of imagination.

Contact me at if you would like more information.
Best wishes!