Wednesday, September 29, 2010
On September 24, over 100 teaching artists from all New England states, and New York, converged on Brattleboro, VT for the annual NECAP (New England Consortium of Artist-Educator Professionals) conference.
This year’s conference, The Serious Work of Play, launched with a keynote address by Sara Boettrich, museum educator from the Strong National Museum of Play. The address provided participants with a brief history of play and an overview of the current research trends in the field. Sara’s keynote was followed by a lecture/performance by McArthur Genius Grant awardee, and world renowned juggler, Michael Moschen. Michael’s presentation complimented the keynote address as he referenced and demonstrated the importance of play in body and mind as he works from original concept to full production of a new show. The morning keynotes were followed by two sessions of workshops that continued to explore the theme of play in participants’ personal and professional lives, and in the lives of the students with whom they work. Workshop offerings included those rooted in theatre, dance, circus arts and opera. Others that were focused less specifically on the arts and more on the underlying theme of play and creativity and their role in education were also included.
In Playing with Play, a workshop that included references to literacy development, comprehension, meaning making, and the creative process, John Holdridge from the Maine Arts Commission led participants through a process of building a supportive learning community through the exploration of sound, rhythm and movement emanating from the classic game Rock, Paper, Scissors. Small groups were then asked to create and play a game using a collection of found objects. In the final segment of the workshop, participants were asked to reflect on their game creation process through the lens of 21st century learning skills currently being promoted by the Maine Department of Education through its membership in the Partnership for 21st Century Schools. Conversations revolved around the skills that were used in the workshop as well as ways to alter or extend the particular learning activities in order to incorporate more 21st century skills. One participant, at the end of the workshop, stated, “Thank you for showing us that several small parts can build on each other to create a cohesive whole that is rooted in play, but grounded in the serious work of education.”
Information about NECAP can be found at http://www.artisteducators.org/index.htm. For more information about the Playing with Play workshop please contact John Holdridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.