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Archive for Tag 'education'

Waiting for Superman and Superwoman

Posted by on September 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm

“When you see a great teacher, you are seeing a work of art,” says leading educator and social activist Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone.

Canada’s comment is captured in the just-released documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” which opened last night in theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The documentary aims to serve as a wake-up call to the nation that our education system is failing, and every aspect of our daily lives will suffer if we do not move aggressively to heed the call.

“Waiting for Superman” was directed by Davis Guggenheim, who also directed the Academy Awarding-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which focused on the global climate change issue.

Guggenheim’s latest film paints a grim picture of the state of education in America. Among 30 developed countries, the United States now ranks 25th in math and 21st in science.

If early indications hold, the film may indeed serve to spark a national debate on education not seen since the 1983 report, “A Nation at Risk,” was released, which also warned of the lasting consequences of failing schools. That report cited dramatic drops in math and science SAT scores by American students over a 20-year period — slippage greater by comparison to students in other advanced countries.

“A Nation at Risk” proceeded to touch off education reforms at the local, state, and federal levels. Twenty-seven years later, it’s apparent that earlier reforms fell far short.

“Waiting for Superman” follows the lives of five children and their families, who are each trying desperately to get their child into a better school. The futures of Daisy, Anthony, Bianca, Emily and Francisco hang in the balance as they hold out hope that their number will be called in lotteries for one of the few slots to charter schools in their respective cities.

In explaining the name of film in an MSNBC interview, Guggenheim notes that the “education system is nearly broken,” and that thousands of people, like these five families, are “waiting for someone to save the schools, and it hasn’t happened.”

Reformers like Geoffrey Canada in Harlem do exist, but they are fighting a fierce headwind of status quo, particularly from teachers’ unions. One of the most vilified reformers is Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of DC’s Public Schools. Rhee has fired several hundred teachers within the last year, who she says were not meeting the grade in the classroom.

“Waiting for Superman” points out that one in 57 doctors each year lose their license for bad performance; one in 97 attorneys lose their law license; while only one in 2,500 teachers lose their credentials.

There is no one superman or superwoman, but there are those who are trying to find a new path in education, and we should all work with them. Administrators, teachers, parents, corporate America, and the public need to roll up our collective sleeves and get to work – challenging the current system and seeking to find new ways to teach and excite children.

Our country, our economy, and our future depend on it.

Bullish on a Promising Spanish Artist

Posted by on October 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Artist Beñat Iglesias, self-portrait - "Auto"Beñat Iglesias, self-portrait

Harlem’s Alex Adam Gallery opens its “Artists and Monitors” art show on Thursday, October 15. The show uniquely features the works of “three of New York’s most extraordinary contemporary figurative artists, and the painters who are and have been privileged to be their assistants.”

One of the “Teacher’s Monitors” whose works will be featured is Beñat Iglesias, a very talented portrait artist who was born in Pamplona, Spain in 1979 on October 12 – thirty years ago today. And yes, Pamplona is home of the world-famous “Running of the Bulls,” the high-risk, high-adrenaline running of 1,200-pound bulls (i.e., with horns) through the cobbled streets of this picturesque city in northern Spain.

This hometown image is in sharp contrast to how Iglesias describes his approach to art: “My work is devoted to the mundane, to depict humble and ordinary people I aim to show in their natural state, to reveal their way of communicating to the world.”

I first saw Iglesias’s talent showcased five years ago, when I attended an art show at New York’s Art Student’s League. Iglesias’s education in fine arts has spanned more than a decade, including a fine arts degree from the Universidad Del Pais Vasco (UPV) in Bilboa, Spain; then further study at the Edinburgh College of Art in the UK, the University of Fine Arts in Barcelona, and New York’s National Academy School of Fine Arts, the Art Students League, and the Andrew Reiss Studio.

Iglesias has exhibited his work in numerous shows in New York and throughout Europe. In 2007, he was a semi-finalist in the 70th Annual American Artists Drawing competition.

I find myself immediately drawn into his work, and how he is able to capture remarkably true-to-life expressions of unremarkable people. I have bought several pieces from Iglesias’s collection over the last several years, and intend on buying more as he continues to grow and develop.

Iglesias’s bright future has been built on a foundation of years of hard work, high quality training, learning by doing, and a bull-headed dedication to his vocation. All are key ingredients for success in any field of work or business. Identify the talent, grow and nurture it, and put yourself in environments where creativity can thrive.

Happy 30th birthday to a promising artist, Beñat Iglesias, or better yet —
¡Feliz cumpleaños!

The show at Alex Adam Gallery in Harlem (78 West 120th Street) runs from October 15th-25th. The exact schedule can be found on the gallery’s website.

Inspiration from a Young Artist

Posted by on April 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Fumiko Toda

Fumiko Toda

Growing up in rural Japan, Fumiko Toda spent many summer days visiting a nearby pond to study the insects, leaves, and stones that lined its banks. She later went on to attend the Kyoto University of Art and Design, and after graduation Fumiko moved to New York City in 2001 to continue to pursue her passion as an artist.

From 2001 to 2007, Fumiko studied art at the National Academy of Design in Manhattan. The Academy (now known as the National Academy Museum & School of Fine Arts) was founded in 1825 to promote American art through exhibitions and education. Today, it houses one of the largest public collections of 19th and 20th century American art in the United States.

Since coming to America, Fumiko, 28, has won numerous awards and grants for her work, which has been showcased in more than two dozen exhibitions in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Japan and Thailand. She admits that she is “obsessively fascinated with color, texture, textile design, and form, although most of the images and inspiration I find for art, are drawn from my childhood background.”

The Safe-T-Gallery in Brooklyn will be the site of Fumiko’s first major solo exhibition in New York, which will be open to the public from April 23 to May 30. Her show is aptly named “Recent Insects.”

What can a company and its employees learn from a young and promising artist? Success is not a static destination; it requires continuous, thought-provoking training and rigorous practice of one’s craft. Find what inspires you and leverage that inspiration in your work. And, if you’re seeking to create “buzz” with your next product or service, you might try looking at obvious things in a new and less obvious way.

Fumiko Toda art

The Legacy of Duncan Phillips

Posted by on March 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm

The Phillips Collection is America’s first museum of modern art. It was founded in 1918 and opened to the public in 1921 — eight years before the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, and two decades before Washington’s National Gallery of Art.

Located in the eclectic Dupont Circle area of our nation’s capital, Duncan Phillips (1886-1966) established the museum as a memorial to his father and brother who died, respectively, in 1917 and 1918. The brothers both went to Yale, were very close, and shared an interest in modern art. “Sorrow all but overwhelmed me,” Duncan Phillips later wrote. “Then I turned to my love of painting for the will to live.”

Over the next five decades, Phillips collected a broad representation of both impressionist and modern art – including works from European and American artists. The museum has showcased works of Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, John Marin, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

Today, the Phillips Collection is a model for other museums to follow – giving back to the nation and the DC community through education and outreach to nearly 90,000 children, teachers and families each year. The museum’s programs seek to leverage the “magic of the arts” to inspire creative expression, the development of critical literacy skills, and lifelong learning. Phillips’s upcoming Annual Gala on May 15 raises money to help fund these very worthwhile causes.

The magic of the arts can also transform individuals in the workplace. Inspiration from present-day and past artists can provide a mighty catalyst for more inspired products and services. Putting your employees in creative environments can pay dividends for your company or organization. Learn from innovators like Duncan Phillips who used loss and adversity to break from the pack and turn a passion into a life-changing experience.

Immigration is Key to U.S. Innovation

Posted by on March 8, 2009 at 5:09 pm

With the economy in shambles, Washington policy-makers should resist the urge to shut out the world’s best and brightest talent by making our country’s already archaic immigration policies even more so. The anti-immigration crowd is louder and more invigorated than ever with the U.S. unemployment rate over 8% and heading higher. What we need now is courage from our government leaders if our country is to ever crawl out of its economic hole.

American innovation has long been without rival. However, it is now being challenged by countries like China, India, and South Korea who fully appreciate this fact: the team which educates and employs the smartest people will eventually win the game.

The globe’s brightest graduates working in this country don’t take jobs away from Americans; they create jobs. In this week’s Business Week, Vivek Wadhwa, underscores this point in ‘America’s Immigrant Brain Drain’ article: “Although [immigrants] represent just 12% of the U.S. population, they have started 52% of Silicon Valley’s tech companies and contributed to more than 25% of the U.S. global patents.”

Will we help the U.S. employee by turning away the top 100,000 foreign-born graduates each year in math, science, and engineering? American workers and our students need to be challenged by the globe’s very best. World-class athletes cannot be world-class without competing against the best in the world. And the same is true in business and education.

I know first-hand about the state of our global competitiveness. I came to this country 31 years ago as a high school exchange student from Tehran, and brought with me much stronger math and science skills compared to my 12th-grade Michigan classmates.

If our country does not move quickly to put smart policies in place to attract and keep the world’s smartest individuals–while better educating our own kids–we will not only lose our global innovative edge, we’ll never get it back.

Happy Birthday to SCAD

Posted by on February 3, 2009 at 7:22 pm

SCAD in Savannah

The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) refers to itself as the “The University for Creative Careers,” and rightfully so. SCAD has more degree programs and specializations in art and design than any other university in the U.S. This year marks the 30th anniversary for SCAD, which is located in Savannah, GA, with campuses also in Atlanta, GA and Lacoste, France.

Corporations can learn from the SCAD experience. It knows that to build one of the world’s top art and design schools, you have to put students in a creative and inspiring environment. SCAD’s main campus is spread out over numerous buildings in the heart of Savannah — one of America’s most picturesque cities. Spanish moss drapes hundreds of century-old trees that line the streets and squares of Savannah. SCAD is credited with much of the revitalization of Savannah’s 2 1/2-square-mile historical district — the nation’s largest.

SCAD students also benefit from a diversity of thought, experience and perspectives. Savannah is home to scores of accomplished authors and artists. Students and faculty come from all 50 states and from over 90 countries. SCAD offers its students majors in over 40 programs, spanning the gamut of creativity and innovation, e.g., architecture, graphic design, illustration, interactive design, fashion, photography, performing arts, advertising design, and dramatic writing.

Last month, SCAD hosted a panel discussion on “Art, Design and the Cultural Moment,” which featured nationally recognized leaders in technology and innovation. The discussion focused on how “creativity can act as an economic engine…sparking entrepreneurship, growth and success.”

Learning is a life-long experience. And whether its in Savannah, Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, Denver or Cincinatti — exposing your employees to a creative environment, innovative thinking, and diversity of thought can lead to very positive results for your company’s bottom line.