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May 27, 2014
by: Ted Hamm

Exhibitions - Spring 2014

This coming Tuesday through Thursday, IDEAS Academy will hold its second semester Exhibitions of Learning. Each semester, this is a time to pause and reflect on the meaning of the Exhibitions of Learning and what they mean for our school community.

The Exhibitions of Learning, or EoLs, represent the culmination of what IDEAS is about. It is an integration of our Habits of Professionalism and Habits of Mind, through a self directed/student initiated project. The actual development of the projects takes place during our Project Block, a 70 minute period in the middle of the day. Although, it is important to point out that often these projects consume a student’s life well beyond a school period. Through this process, students go through phases of ideation, research, creation, presentation/performance and reflection.

We are often asked why we do this, especially in light of the ever increasing testing and other accountability measures. Quite simply, creativity and innovation are the heart of our school. All of our structures move towards that common thread. If we lost this, we lose our school’s core purpose (to prepare students for a future that values creative and innovative thinking). We believe that while students need to learn content and skills (as all high school students do), they need to learn in a way that fosters creativity and innovation. While many talk about creativity and innovation (especially in the arts), it is often done as a means of justification with little thought given to the methods and structures used to foster creative and innovative thinking. Through each project, we challenge students to create something that has never been done before or to expand on an idea or concept in an innovative way. This opens the doors to apply the concepts they chose to study in a myriad of ways. Through this process, we have seen our students write a novel about the impact of a cultural disengagement with education; create an original choreographed piece about addiction; and recreate a Van de Graff generator.

These projects are essential to our mission. They provide room for student choice in subject, process and product. Most importantly, they provide room for failure. Not failure in the traditional “F” sense of the word, but failure in the sense of perseverance. Students are often faced with obstacles, some project altering or project ending. How those obstacles are dealt with are greater than any school lesson a student can be taught. The exhibitions this week will provide an array of “successes”, examples of perseverance, and some failure. Each one demonstrates learning.

The public is invited to attend and, more importantly, to ask questions of our students that challenge their thinking. The events will run Tuesday through Thursday with Tuesday at EBCO ArtWORKS from 1:00 - 3:00 featuring our Visual Artists and Engineers and at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center from 4:00 - 7:00. Wednesday will feature our Visual Artists and Engineering from 1:00 - 2:00 and Thursday we will be back at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center from 1:00 - 7:00. There is not cost for admission.

Should you choose to attend our EoLs, you will witness a variety of student initiated projects with students demonstrating what they know through Creative Writing, Dance, Drama/Film, Music, Engineering and Visual Arts. It is important to point out that this is not recreated work, but student created work. Students will be exploring questions such as:

  • How can we create a reliable power supply for India that does not rely on fuel?
  • What makes us human? What are the long term effects of isolation on a child's development and can they recover from those effects?
  • What role does human intervention play in the extinction of frogs?

Students will present their projects, including research and their products in a manner that fits the discipline they studied. Visual artists and engineers will present in more of a gallery walk style, while films, dances, music and creative writing will be presented through readings, film showings and performances. Science projects will be presented in a poster presentation style. All projects will ask for the audience to provide feedback to performance/presentation and research.

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