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Buffalo State Experts: Parks Discusses Connection Between Art, Common Core

Buffalo State Experts: Parks Discusses Connection Between Art, Common Core

Posted: October 6, 2014

Outside the Upton Hall office of Michael Parks hangs this quote: "Art has the role in education of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else (Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, child advocate and educator)."

Parks, who serves as chair and professor of art education, takes this philosophy to heart in his role preparing the next generation of art teachers, especially at a time when K-12 schools are shifting their instructional emphasis to standardized testing.

Some parents and educators are concerned that creativity and the arts are being pushed aside in order to adhere to Common Core State Standards and prepare students for the challenging annual tests in math and language arts. However, studying the visual arts actually augments overall learning, Parks noted. He cites evidence from the College Board and the National Art Education Association that studying, creating, and analyzing art supports the Common Core requirements for literacy.

"Teaching visual arts is very much in line with current state standards," Parks said. "The adage that art is about ideas, not about putting a pretty picture on the wall, supports this. Images are metaphorical and parallel how students evaluate literature and write explanatory text."

At the same, he noted that teachers should refrain from "teaching to the test," and should encourage students to express their creativity in all subjects. Parks is a proponent of constructivist teaching that encourages students to use deductive reasoning and develop new ideas rather than simply memorizing facts.

Art education remains a necessary component of the K-12 curriculum, he said, and most schools still employ at least one art teacher. Although the job market is soft in some areas of New York due to declining populations of school-age children, others states are clamoring for art teachers.

"I get emails regularly from districts in states in the South and West where the population is growing," Parks said. "They want our graduates."

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