Academic News

Lincoln Center Education and CUNY Teacher Education Offer Arts-focused Professional Development

March 20, 2017

Lincoln Center Education and CUNY Teacher Education Activities

On February 28, 2017, faculty from across the university rolled up their sleeves for a professional development opportunity with an artistic slant.

For the past two decades, CUNY and Lincoln Center Education—two renowned institutions with a shared commitment to enriching the lives of New Yorkers—have collaborated to integrate artistic exposure into educational experiences. From musical performances to theatre tours to hands-on creative projects, the partnership provides opportunities for CUNY’s Teacher Education faculty at Brooklyn College, City College, Hunter College, Queens College, and Lehman College to interact with the city’s rich resources in arts and culture, and gain skills in imagination and perception. Often, this involves a CUNY faculty member and LCE teaching artist joining forces to co-design course sessions around specific works of art. Other times, LCE offers workshops and trainings that help educators plan and implement strategies for infusing both teaching and learning with valuable processes from the artistic world.

This most recent workshop, organized by CUNY’s University Dean of Education Ashleigh Thompson, sought to engage more CUNY education faculty in the LCE partnership. “CUNY is the largest preparer of teachers for the New York City Department Education’s schools,” said Dean Thompson. “With the guidance and expertise of our colleagues at Lincoln Center Education, workshops like today’s have a widespread ripple effect throughout the city—CUNY faculty members incorporate these practices into their syllabi, and their students take that knowledge and experience with them when they become teachers in DOE classrooms, where students at the K-12 level benefit from early exposure to artistic works and pedagogies that nurture creative thinking.”

John Holyoke, assistant director of Lincoln Center Education, explained LCE’s inquiry-based model and framework and explained how this approach focuses not on the skills associated with artistic production but the thought and decision-making processes that artists use in their creative work. He introduced teaching artist Barbara Ellman, who led the 20 workshop participants, representing 9 CUNY colleges, through an ice-breaker exercise that evolved into a hands-on art project. She asked everyone to take out their keys and share a story inspired by this universal but personal item. Then, groups were asked to arrange their keys on a sheet of paper in ways that reflected the various stories. Later, everyone coated one key in black ink and used it as a stamp to create a joint work of art. Throughout, the exercise was intended to encourage questions, dialogue, and intentional and collaborative decision-making—all mechanisms that could later be applied in faculty’s own courses.

The workshop segued into analysis of and dialog about the work of Willie Cole, a visual artist best known for use of domestic and used objects in his compositions. Prints featuring steam irons were shared with faculty who were able to engage in, model, and debrief about questioning strategies—tools that can be repurposed and integrated into their own teaching as well as the practices of teacher candidates in their courses.

Faculty interested in learning more about LCE’s approach to aesthetic education may wish to explore Summer Forum.