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OUR PHILOSOPHY

Given the current challenges in urban settings, our goal is to increase our support of urban secondary students in Texas at the higher education level by providing opportunities to learn and engage in instructional processes that foster leadership via a Governor's School in Arts and Humanities for Urban Leadership. Our goals are threefold:

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Governor's School Faculty: [from left to right] Dr. Norvella Carter, Dr. Patrick Slattery (front row), Dr. Chance Lewis, and Dr. B. Stephen Carpenter, II (back row).

1) teach four engaging courses in arts and urban leadership that include research, creative writing, theatrical performances, and visual art, media and technology projects;

2) use this scholarship and these creative activities in the arts as the organizing structure and central metaphor for developing urban leaders; and,

3) build a community of diverse learners and artists who are equipped to address the unique challenges of urban culture to lead Texas into the 21st century.

We will begin to address the needs of urban learners during the Governor's School in Arts and Humanities for Urban Leadership as we make quality education accessible. We will provide opportunities for urban learners to become successful participants in our society; ensure cultural diversity is reflected in the curricular content, faculty and support staff, and instructional strategies; require our instructors to employ culturally relevant teaching styles, and; allow all students to learn about career options in the arts.

According to acclaimed education scholar Elliot Eisner, the arts teach ten important lessons:

(1) The arts teach students to make good judgments about qualitative relationships;

(2) The arts teach students that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer;

(3) The arts celebrate multiple perspectives;

(4) The arts teach students that in complex forms of problem solving, purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity;

(5) The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know;

(6) The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects;

(7) The arts teach students to think through and within a material;

(8) The arts help students learn to say what cannot be said;

(9) The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling, and;

(10) The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important (Eisner, 2002).

The arts offer ways of engaging with the world that other modes of inquiry do not. With the emphasis in high-stakes testing and increased attention to more class-time for traditionally central school subjects like math and science, few students come to know how the arts can enable democratic and caring ways of engaging in the world or personal success through or because of the arts. The majority of school districts in Texas lack fine arts coordinators who have degrees in dance, music, or visual art, and many school districts are without a fine arts coordinator at all. In many schools in Texas, the arts are under-funded and suffer the maligned stigma of being an "easy class." The content and experiences offered through the arts are often perceived as unimportant for future success in society as evidenced in behaviors and attitudes of many teachers, administrators, and parents. In short, not all students learn through memorization of information or through verbal or mathematical approaches alone. In an era of increasing attention to the merits of interdisciplinary and collaborative means of learning and living, students in our public schools are missing out on learning opportunities built inherently on these principles.

The arts are inherently interdisciplinary, and our program offers urban secondary students a unique opportunity to engage in meaningful, issues-based inquiry through the arts and humanities focused on issues of diversity.

As students examine, question, and make explicit how the arts and humanities engage artists, community members, and society with issues of diversity, we will also offer a unifying message of how the awareness from these experiences can be used to make important decisions, especially for people in leadership roles.

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