The following was written by CAPE’s Education Director, Scott Sikkema, for our CAPE Network Forum newsletter.
Uncertainty and the unknown seem to define our present time. With regards to safety and health, uncertainty and the unknown must be conquered, and we must protect each other and prioritize those at risk and those less able to care for themselves.
We must also remember that, in education and in art, uncertainty and the unknown are generative. Navigating through the unknown gives students authentic ownership of their learning. For teachers and artists, asking questions they don’t know the answer to engenders a real partnership between them—and gives them a sense of ownership as well. Further, a true struggle with the unknown and uncertainty in teaching can bring a teacher or an artist to what they really believe education or art should be.
We are now in an entirely new world in regards to education. No one knows what works best, no one knows how anything will turn out, and no one knows how long this will go on. This is why, more than ever, teachers and artists and principals and schools must have the freedom to experiment. Compliance enforcement and drives for uniform curriculums are not helpful at this time. We must acknowledge that the only way to build a new way of learning is through the collaborative work of educators, parents and community partners connecting in networks in order to share and debate. A new way of teaching and learning that can set students on their paths of finding ways to positively grow and develop can’t be dictated by the top down, whether by edicts or by associations of those in power positions engaged in long conversations before they issue a document of their making.
In June of 2018, CAPE held a public panel discussion on the critical importance of uncertainty and the unknown in art, education, and science. The conversation took place under very different circumstances than ours at present, and yet what was spoken has real relevance now. During the panel, one of the things we talked about was vulnerability. To be uncertain is also to be vulnerable. Educational policies often seek to remove uncertainty, and thus vulnerability as well. But vulnerability, and feeling okay with being vulnerable together, is what we need now to learn, create, persevere, and help others through this crisis.
— Scott Sikkema
Check out our CAPE Network Forum on Tumblr to explore how our teachers, teaching artists, and staff have remained engaged in teaching, learning, and collaborating since the school shutdowns began.