Why Gaskin Was Good

Ed.D administration types seem to really enjoy making proclamations of support for formal arts education.  This is doubly so in affluent, cosmopolitan areas.  Beyond the public affirmations though, most bureaucrats have a poor understanding of the value a high-caliber arts education affords.

Gaskin, as a college administrator was unique in this regard.  She saw beyond the “enrichment” fluff.  She recognized that studio arts curricula provide a unique (and arguably cost-saving) range of problem solving activities that are generally unavailable elsewhere in contemporary public education.  She appreciated the notion that for a great many students the arts are the best bridge to formal education, period.

She recognized for instance, that a student who is having a difficult time paying attention during a history lecture can also be thoroughly capable of the time-consuming and precision work required to bring Pericles, Christine de Pizan, or MLK to life on a theater stage.  She was one to acknowledge that a student who’s had a tough time with formal maths might need to engineer a dynamic particle simulation in a computer animation class before algebra, geometry or calculus makes any practical sense.  And she knew that the studio approach can provide inspiration to the perennially unpunctual student; who all of a sudden can’t wait to get to school in order to work on “their” project.

The student who dreads being crammed into neatly columned rows of desks, under soul crushing fluorescent light, for yet another Power-Point/white board presentation, will find her intellect and spirit engaged and encouraged via industrial-grade power tools, field work, one-on-one studio instruction and public exhibition.  You know, knowledge based on actual experience.

Gaskin “got this” and subsequently tried to steer the institution in a direction that acknowledged the studio art experience as an integral part of a comprehensive public education.   “Money where your mouth is”, and all that.

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