The Future Is Coming to a School Near You

Creativity has always been a core strength of our country, and in today’s ever-changing world creativity is more in demand than ever. Companies around the world list creativity and innovation as their top priority for hiring.

 

That’s good news because in Illinois we are taking steps to become the national leader in arts education. On June 16, 2016, the Illinois State Board of Education unanimously approved the Illinois Arts Learning Standards Initiative.

Learning standards in any subject identify what is important for students to know and be able to do in a discipline. The arts learning standards currently used in schools were established nearly 20 years ago. Think about some of the changes since that time.

The Internet. In 1994, there were about 3,000 websites. Today there are about 1 billion. That’s one billion opportunities for graphic designers along with a demand for photos, videos and music.

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YouTube. More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than has been created by three major U.S. TV networks in 60 years.

Cinema. Next time you go to an animated film, look at the number of artists who are listed in the credits. Jobs on the computer graphics team alone include animators, EFX artists, lighting artists, hair artists, crowd artists, matte painters, texture painters, modelling artists, and rendering artists. One film can employ over 600 artists.

The old art learning standards didn’t prepare our kids for modern art careers, but the new standards will because they better emphasise technology in the arts. With these standards, Illinois students will receive an arts education that helps them compete for global jobs in the creative workforce.

The power of the new learning standards goes beyond students advancing their own artistic abilities. The standards also develop 21st-century skills: critical thinking, collaboration, creative problem solving and communication. Those are the skills employers are looking for. Those skills will help students succeed in the knowledge economy.

Illinois legislators backed the board of education on July 13. That’s when the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, consisting of six Democrats and six Republicans, voted unanimously to support the Illinois Arts Learning Standards.

“The committee’s vote serves as the strong bipartisan statement that the arts are essential to a complete and competitive education for all Illinois students,” said Duffy Armstrong, artist and ArtsAlliance Illinois Board member since 2006. “Providing the new standards as a statewide, legislatively supported part of the curriculum allows for all students in our public schools, not just those who live in communities with larger property tax bases, the opportunity to enjoy the arts as an integral part of learning.”

The fact that the new learning standards are momentous at meeting the needs of the future is due to the efforts of art educators, arts advocates, the Illinois Art Educators Association, the Illinois State Board of Education and Arts Alliance Illinois who worked long hours to benefit our students and our state.

What happens next with the new Art Learning Standards? School districts will develop the curricula for teaching arts, and the new curricula will be in effect with the 2018-2019 school year. What does that mean for school kids? They will be better equipped intellectually, emotionally and socially to thrive in today’s ever-changing world.

 

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