By Mitch Harris, Literacy to Life Associate
A few weeks ago, I attended the Texas Tribune’s 3rd annual Tribune Festival. While there was a quite impressive list of speakers and topics (Wendy Davis, Ted Cruz and Anita Perry to name a few), I found myself drawn to the Public Education speaker series.
One panel was particularly exciting to me—Innovations in Teaching. I wanted to do some research, see what’s being done to connect with students and enhance their education, and take something back to implement in our curriculum at the Paramount.
The panelists included former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Pat Wasley, CEO of the Teaching Channel, and Monty Exter of the Association of Texas Professional Educators. While all of these experts have a different view of education, they all seemed to agree on what could fix our current education climate—Creativity and Collaboration.
Paige and Exter both agreed that current standardized testing is a necessary evil. The tests exist for a reason and there’s no getting around of them, but the emphasis placed on them is getting in the way of what an education should be. Teaching to a test serves neither the teacher nor the student. It takes a variety of creative strategies across all subjects for a student to get the most out of their education.
Wasley believes sticking teachers in a classroom by themselves is counter-intuitive. She said that the only way to get better at your craft is to learn from others in your field. This is true for doctors, lawyers, athletes and any other profession. So why do we stick teachers in a room by themselves all day with no ability to collaborate with each other?
However, these are things that the Paramount Academy for the Arts has been doing for years now. Story Wranglers, for instance, has at least three teaching artists in the classroom leading a lesson together. The collaboration between them benefits not only the teachers themselves, but the students as well. As far as creativity goes, that’s what we’re all about. Whether its teaching complex science and math concepts with drama-based pedagogy or preparing students for a professional show in the Paramount, we infuse our entire curriculum with as many creative strategies as we can to help students get the most out of their education.