Once More, With Feeling

NMAEA Award 2014

The award on my office wall. I love it.

In November of 2014, the New Mexico Art Education Association bestowed on me a singular privilege and honor: the Max Coll and Catherine Joyce Coll Award for Arts Education.

The award stemmed from my participation in a group of dedicated rabble-rousers to support and eventually pass Rep. Max Coll’s Fine Arts Education Act. This law, passed by the New Mexico Legislature in 2003, has resulted in arts experiences for thousands of children who would otherwise have had no access to the arts.

early award face

A cool award from 2004 that I also love.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 6.27.03 PM

Text from that early award.

When I accepted this generous award in Las Cruces last November, I made some remarks that people have since said were worth repeating. I decided to repeat them here.

The text below is adapted from my notes for that speech.

NMAEA Dinner

NMAEA Dinner, Las Cruces, November 2014

There have been reform movements in education, including ones that claimed to “get back to the basics.” But we have done nothing more than tweak a badly-designed, factory-inspired system. What no one noticed, in the rush to rule an industrialized world, was that the arts have always been the first, best teachers.

The arts engage, inspire, provoke, encourage, and connect us. They invite us to see things that are not at first obvious. The arts enlist all our intelligences, all our modalities, and all our experiences in the mission of making sense of the world.

When we give learning back to children by giving away the secret to playfully creating meaningful art, we are helping our children become healthy, aware, and empathetic citizens of the 21st century. We are restoring their birthrights: to participate fully in life, to fail and try again, to fail again and try again, to succeed, and — most importantly of all — to feel deeply.

Arts experiences are aesthetic ones. “Aesthetic” means “suffused with feeling, sensation, or emotion.” What is the opposite of aesthetic experiences? Anesthetic ones. The kind our children have every day, all day, in school.

Let’s stop deadening our children in the name of educating them. Let’s instead show them how to wear their feelings on their sleeves. Let them think as dancers, scientists, musicians, mathematicians, poets, painters, engineers, playwrights, historians, filmmakers, and — most importantly of all — as whole beings.

An artist is not a different type of person. Each one of us is our own, unique artist. Let’s help each child make that discovery, and let us return to teaching and learning from each other with beauty and grace.

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About rbdancer

Randy has been a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist and Workshop Leader since 1995. During 35 years as a teaching artist, he has led over 300 in-depth workshops, courses, and seminars for teachers and teaching artists, traveling to 37 states in the process. As a choreographer and professional dancer, Randy has danced and produced dance concerts in some of the country's most storied theaters. Randy now lives with his wife in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in northeastern New Mexico.
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5 Responses to Once More, With Feeling

  1. Lynne Silverstein says:

    Congratulations on the most recent honor! Well deserved. Thanks for posting your remarks. Well said. As always, well expressed. Thank you for your work!!

  2. Tamera says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Please consider “liking” the Harmony Project on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colorado-Harmony-Project/133905440021601?pnref=lhc). I would love to repost your work as a link on our site whenever possible. Our organization focuses on infusing the teaching and learning process with creative and artistic explorations. Our Arts Integrated approach to education seems just up your alley. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  3. Kathleen Kingsley says:

    Well said, Mr. Barron.

  4. Stuart stotts says:

    Beautiful and clear and passionate. Yes I say.

  5. Arielle says:

    Eloquent arts educator indeed! Suitable honors for someone who has worked hard to brings arts to thousands of students and teachers in a fun, intelligent, and mind-expanding fashion.

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