A creative education: Part II

In the last post, a creative education (see below) I wrote about what I saw as a missed opportunity to talk about ideas for a more creative art education in Detroit.

Following up on that opportunity, here are some models that are inspiring:

Trade School is in NYC and is based on a barter system. Know something? Teach something. Share something. The emphasis is on a social exchange of sharing skills.

From Trade School's values:

  • Practical Skills (action over abstraction, enthusiasm over experts)
  • Reciprocity (everyone has something to share: anyone can teach, everyone can 'afford' the barter because it includes labor)
  • Rigor + Humility (unempowering and empowering work for all)
  • Community Space (share food/tea, make furniture, you know the organizers because we are sitting in class with you)

How we work:

  • Design for the community you are part of (it's easy to make bad decisions if they don't effect you) [at the end of school we met with all our students/teachers]
  • Work in a Small Group (each person added to the group doubles the amount of time it takes to make a decision. ex: 6 people for Trade School, but really 3 people plus students/teachers


A creative education

Last week I was eager to attend the Detroit leg of a cross country expedition led by the Bruce High Quality Foundation and sponsored by Creative Time called Teach 4 Amerika. The premise was/is that art education tends to be limiting rather than expansive, and tends towards the prohibitively expensive. The Bruce High Quality folks have started a school in NY, and their cross country journey (in groovy bus, see image left by Jeffrey Bussmann) is aimed at asking questions around the US in search of ideas and dialogue for an alternate educational model that fosters creativity. Agree.

I had to leave after 2 hours--the conversation may have exploded after that, or it may have stayed mired where it was. Where it was was off track--we didn't get to talk about art education, and instead focused on micro-local issues of whose landlord as good (or evil) why the city makes it hard for artists. The conversation promised did not happen--and maybe what did happen points some fingers towards problems and solutions for creative education.

Effectively, the gathered were the privileged in many ways, who demographically reiterate the prevailing assumptions and media images of the image of the artist as white, well educated middle class---and in the general tenor of the group, they are misunderstood and their good efforts at starting up galleries and parties are not adequately encouraged by the City. The voices heard were products of art school dialogue and discourse, as were the guests. As such, there was little need for expansion, and the conversation became short hand. The few notes of discord left earlier--there were some great comments from educators at CCS and people who worked in other arenas, but as they left, so left that line of inquiry.

What would an ideal creative education in Detroit look like? How could it borrow and build from the assets of the city (and by assets I mean not only cultural institutions, but cultural questions about the role of art in society) and how could it foster art/work/life that is vital and responsive rather than circumscribed or doctrinaire? Stay tuned.