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Insights to Excite

By Tania Romero, Cohort ’12 

In March, I was asked to participate in a panel discussion, Media Arts Education: Insights to Excite!, held at South by Southwest EDU, alongside Cory Wilkerson, a project manager from the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education. The panel was moderated and organized by Lakita Edwards, a specialist from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). As panelists, we raised questions about the implementation of media arts standards and the exciting new opportunities within the developing educational landscape of youth culture. The conversation also focused on how media arts are a unique discipline with a new aesthetic.

The speed of technological innovation and the ubiquity of content on the internet have drastically altered how young people interact with the world around them. New interactive ways to make sense of the world are changing and increasing. Nevertheless, the national agenda to standardize all curriculums, including standards within the media arts, seems to transform the classroom into a career focused environment that only applies the creative process for the purposes of problem-solving, professional communication, and innovation.

I teach in a project-based, collaborative environment where students learn industry-specific skills within the curriculum standards set by Career and Technology Education (CTE). Therefore, the standards that frame my teaching practice for the field of Audio Video Production are very career focused. The focus on career training and job skills, at least in the industrialized high school model, where all subjects are compartmentalized and taught separately, drives a lot of the district funding, industry certification, dual credit arrangements, and community outreach opportunities. However, should career goals be the primary focus of media art instruction?

Our responsibility as educators is to create a space that helps students define this creative process for themselves. We should not oppose standards in the media arts, but rather consider them an open field of practices that go beyond a career focus. Standards should allow teachers to engage students in a process. The focus should be on how this process births media literacy, innovation, and transformation. Because as we all already know, the jobs of the future have yet to be invented.