Saturday, June 20, 2015

Indiana High School Graduation Requirements: Recipe For Radical Behaviorism

Carl Sagan once said, "We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology in which hardly nobody knows anything about science and technology."

Is it any coincidence Indiana policymakers offer no conception of the human mind for which they prescribe educational experience?

The Indiana Career Council's new high school diploma requirements are top heavy in mathematics and language arts. These subject areas constitute the bulk of curricular experience across Indiana schools and are assessed through deified standardized hi-stakes testing assessments. Powerful influencers of education policy with no experience in classrooms who place numerical values on student's educational growth see no problem coercing children into narrowed curricula experiences that are essentially rehearsals for more standardized tests.

Standardized testing is not a benign process. Testing shapes curriculum. Curriculum affects development of a child's formative mind.

There is no definitive research on the level's of toxic stress children experience in schools, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest stress levels are significant.

It is quite evident the new diploma requirements, influenced by business entities desirous of supplying corporations with compliant workers, have fashioned a diploma structure that supports the needs of a capitalist-state and reaffirms a command and control structure of “doing to” children instead of providing pathways for individuals to control their own educational destiny with democratic learning opportunities utilizing their own curricula designs.

The new requirements represent a continuation of “banking education” where children are viewed as passive recipients of knowledge. In Indiana, policymakers don’t care if the cold hard spike of inappropriate pressure is driven into the malleable minds of children utilizing high stakes standardized tests and test driven curricula. Sound far-fetched?

When there are winners and losers in an A-F system that weighs educational growth like meat on a butcher’s scale nor takes into account variables outside the child's daily schooling experience, there is a price to pay.

Radical behaviorism as an instructional psychology is a common psychological experience that children experience during their formative years in Indiana schools. How does the state account for SERIOUS mental illness rates exceeding 4% of Indiana’s population?

Consider that Indiana has the second highest rate of juvenile suicide attempts in the US:

From 2006-’11, 1,137 children aged 10-14 took their own lives and from 2006-’11, 21,598 teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 took their own lives:

There is no provision for individual learning pathways in the new high school diploma requirements. Subject areas that provide humanistic learning experiences, the fine arts in particular, “may” be provided by an institution offering diploma accreditation status.

What concerned Hoosier citizens have witnessed over the past decade and a half in their schools is a narrowing of children’s curricula offerings and intensification of experience centered on lifeless multiple-’choice’ questions designed to confuse learners with distractor answers. Dyslexic readers, sufferers of other physiological conditions, mental illness or attention deficits that might lead to confused thinking while participating in timed, high stakes standardized tests, may be regarded as collateral damage while the state determines who the winners and losers are in the next graduation cohort.

Is the purpose of education to provide opportunities for the development of the self or the development of the corporate-state? It is my analysis, the new Indiana high school diploma requirements do not provide alternative pathways for children to integrate creativity or self-determined educational experience into their consciousness, but are road maps to more testing, more radical behaviorism, more de-professionalization of teachers and more privatization of public education.

You can view these documents and comment on them here: 

Clyde Gaw

Monday, March 2, 2015

INDIANA Youth Art Month Celebration 2015

Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.” George Washington Carver

Suzanne Whitton and colleague Dacia set up boards on Saturday morning before the big event!

Sidney Allen with help of a friend secures art exhibition boards on Saturday morning.

Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz arrives Sunday morning to assess 180 art works.
Students depict Velazquez great painting, "Los Meninas."

Suzanne Whitton introduces AEAI President Jill Sayers.
Students and parents examine high school art.
Students take group photographs with Supt. Ritz.

Crowd enjoys student art and refreshments in the South Atrium of the Indiana State Capitol Building.

Art enthusiasts enjoy the exhibit!

YAM Chair and 2013 Indiana Teacher of the Year Suzanne Whitton discusses program details with AEAI President Elect Mary Sorrels and AEAI President Jill Sayers.

Remarks to YAM attendees and introduction of Indiana Supt. of Public Education Glenda Ritz: 

The Art Education Association of Indiana would like to thank you all for coming out today!

Celebrating learning in the arts is one of the most important things communities can do to encourage their youngest citizen’s educational success.

Let me introduce you to George Washington Carver.

I’d like to share with you a story about a great American.

This American was born into slavery during the Civil War in the state of Missouri.

When George Washington Carver was a baby boy, he and his mother were kidnapped by Confederate raiders.

He survived this tragedy, but his mother was never seen nor heard from again.

As a young boy, this great American was at risk to live a short, cruel and harsh life.

Fortunately, Carver’s adopted family encouraged his natural inclinations for creativity. After completing his chores on the farm where he lived the young boy took walks through the South West Missouri countryside.

Young Carver collected all kinds of plants and other objects from nature.

He often made drawings of his plants and he became very good at painting.

Drawing and painting was an activity that fueled the young man’s intellect and his love of learning and he amazed his community with his art and his scientific understanding of plants.

He was encouraged to pursue higher learning and enrolled in the art and music program at Simpson College. Carver’s art teacher, Miss Etta Budd, recognized this great American’s artistic genius but also realized his contributions to science might be even more significant. She encouraged him to attend Iowa State University where he studied agriculture and botany and would later go on to direct the science department at the world famous Tuskeegee Institute.

George Washington Carver’s work has been impacting American culture for more than a century.  Among his many discoveries and scientific innovations including the invention of peanut butter and hundreds of uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes and other plants, Carver became one of the first pioneers of genetic engineering.

On the development of the mind Carver said: Since new developments are the products of a creative mind, we must therefore stimulate and encourage that type of mind in every way possible.”

What can we learn from George Washington Carver’s extraordinary life? Carver experienced the power of the arts. As a young child, he became very knowledgeable in the science of plants and developed a powerful intellect through the fine arts.

We learn that nurturing that which is distinctive in young children is essential to their intellectual development. Art making has immense psycho-dynamic power to imbue in children the attributes of imagination, observation, intellect and perception that will serve them well into their adulthood.

Think about it.

The only subject in school besides music that is a bonafide medical therapy is art. Art is powerful stuff. Art is science! 95% of the World’s top STEM professionals all have fine arts backgrounds. Art education is a good thing!
Unfortunately, I leave you today with sad news. Throughout our state, we have witnessed art programs cut and creativity development reduced in our public schools. High quality art programs are at risk across this state. Real dollars reaching Indiana classrooms have declined since 2002 by at least 20%.

Our next speaker understands the importance of the arts in the lives of children. In 2011, she ran for Indiana State Superintendent because she saw arts education at risk across the state.

She understood that no one can predict how far an individual child may go in a dynamic school system when understanding educators, using all the resources of the community, including fine arts programs, awakens a child’s imagination and interest, thus releasing the secret ingredient of learning, emotional drive.

Ladies and Gentleman, it is my pleasure to introduce to you our Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz!

Glenda Ritz addresses the crowd on the importance of creativity and art education in the lives of children.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Attention IN Art Teachers: Be A Part of The Most Important Advocacy Event of 2015

If you haven't signed up yet for Youth Art Month, now's the time to do it!

AEAI Youth Art Month Chair and 2013 Indiana Teacher of the Year, Suzanne Whitton and the rest of the AEAI team are planning a wonderful program for this year.  Important dignitaries from the Indiana General Assembly, Department of Education and Indiana State School Board will participate in this event.

Please consider joining us on March 1st at the Indiana State Capitol. Your participation counts!

Select 5 works of art, fill out the application form, follow the delivery instructions and get set for a wonderful time.

From my own experience, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing joyful students and their proud families at this special exhibition event.

See you on March 1st!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Care To Join Me @ Arts Advocacy Day 2015?

Indiana Coalition for the Arts has graciously organized Arts Day again at the Indiana State Capitol on January 27th, 2015. We will be in the halls talking to legislators about the power of the arts to impact learning and change lives. Please consider joining me and other arts advocates as we exercise our right to communicate directly with lawmakers and share with them our concerns about dwindling creative learning experiences for children and the importance of an imaginative and creative citizenry. We cannot afford future failures of imagination.

Contact me at if you would like more information.
Best wishes!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Questions 4 Legislators - Letters 2 Legislators

Indiana state representatives and senators will be formulating new initiatives and laws that will affect students and teachers during the 2015 Indiana General Assembly legislative session.

What questions would you would like to ask your state legislators?

  •  Concerned about too much time devoted to testing and not enough time devoted to learning?
  • Are you concerned there are too many students in your classroom?
  • Hands-on science, p.e., art, music or recess disappearing from your daily school experience?
  • Is school more drudgery than joyful learning?
  • What other questions do you think are important?

What do you think? These are important questions. Legislators are responsible for funding public schools and they enact laws that influence the kinds of learning experiences students must participate in. Want to contact your state representative and state senator?

Email, call or send a snail mail letter to your state congressmen and congresswomen: Indiana General Assembly .

After sending your letter to your legislator, if you would like extra attention paid to your letter, send a copy of it to me at .

Participating in our democracy is one of the most important things you will ever do!

Make your voice heard!

Best wishes!
Clyde Gaw
Indiana Art Education Association Advocacy

Sunday, November 2, 2014

He Who Controls Education Policy Controls Children's Learning Outcomes

Do schools provide children with well-rounded educational opportunities? Are teachers forced to design curriculum around tests? Or children? What kinds of educational experience are emphasized in schools today? Are children's voices considered in the design of curriculum? Or, does the spectre of teacher evaluations and A-F school evaluations based on machine graded tests dominate children's daily learning experience? Who is responsible for the current educational landscape emphasizing restrictive, punitive measures against children and educators?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2014 Youth Art Month at the Indiana State Capitol!

Lots of families with their student-artists today! A great crowd I'd estimate around 600 or so!
Proud parents take snapshots of their student-artists!
A great group of artists from all around the State of Indiana pose with 2013 Indiana Teacher of The Year Suzanne Whitton!
Indianapolis Public Schools art teacher Ms. Said poses with her student.

2013 Indiana Teacher of the Year Suzanne Whitton addresses the audience.
Mindy Stephenson and Kheira Adda are co-chairs of Youth Art Month and preside over this years event.
My sincerest thanks to Mindy Stephenson and Kheira Adda for putting together an outstanding exhibition and advocacy event! Everything was just wonderful! My sincerest thanks to AEAI President Sidney Allen for her stewardship of AEAI during troubled educational times. Also my sincerest thanks to Bev Staub for her guidance and support in facilitating another outstanding YAM event! What a great time had by our artist-learners and their parents! Just a wonderful event!

Here are my comments to the audience: I wanted to talk to you today about the arts and the formation of the mind, but my students at New Palestine Elementary tell me I take up too much of their art time because I talk too much so I will try to be brief.

200 years ago, in the town of Dole, France, there was a boy who was born to poorly educated parents.

Early on, he was not very astute in academics, however, he showed an immense interest in drawing and painting. He devoted much of his early life to art and at one time considered work as a professional portrait painter. 

As he grew, his interests turned to science, and later he decided to use his powers of imagination in science laboratories. This former art student would go on to a spectacular career in bio-chemistry and is responsible for developing numerous scientific breakthroughs in germ theory, the science of vaccination and pasteurization. 

Of course I am talking about Louis Pasteur. Pasteur credited his early art training as providing him with the capacity to envision cellular activity at microscopic levels. On the relationship of art and science Pasteur said, “The illusions of the experiment form the greater part of my power!”

Art making has immense psycho-dynamic power to imbue in children the attributes of imagination, observation, intellect and perception that will serve them well into their adulthood. 

Think about it. The only subject in school that is a bonafide medical therapy is art. Art is powerful stuff. Art is science! 95% of the World’s top STEM professionals all have fine arts backgrounds. 

High quality art education programs for Indiana children is a good thing!

Unfortunately, I leave you with sad news today. Throughout Indiana schools we have witnessed art program cuts. Children’s creativity development opportunities have been reduced. High quality art programs are at risk across this state. Real dollars reaching Indiana classrooms have declined since 2002 by at least 20%. 

As a powerful parent or citizen advocate, I urge you to advocate for your children’s art program, please contact your state legislators at WWW.IN.GOV. Send your federal legislators, your governor and your president a loud and clear message either by telephone, snail mail or email to adequately fund Indiana public schools and preserve fine arts programs for your children and our future. 

We cannot afford future failures of imagination! I thank you!

Here is video of the presentations: