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New Creativity Paradigms

Arts Learning in the Digital Age


Kylie Peppler

Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, this book explores research indicating that youth are learning new ways to engage in the arts on their own time and according to their own interests. Digital technologies, such as production tools and social media, allow youth to create and share their art. Kylie Peppler urges educators and policy makers to take advantage of «arts learning opportunities» and imagine a school setting where young people are driven by their own interests, using tablets, computers, and other devices to produce visual arts, music composition, dance, and design. This book gives educators an understanding of what is happening with current digital technologies and the opportunities that exist to connect to youth practice, and raises questions about why we don’t use these opportunities more frequently.
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Executive Summary


Traditionally in the United States, schools and after-school programs have played a prominent part in teaching young people about the arts. Arts education has been waning in K-12 public schools in recent times, however. This is especially true in low-income communities, where public schools have often cut back on arts instruction so they can devote limited public education dollars to subjects such as writing and math that are the focus of high-stakes stand- ardized tests.

When we look outside of school, however, we see a strikingly different landscape, one full of promise for engaging young people in artistic activity. What makes this landscape possible is an eagerness to explore that springs from youths’ own creative passions—what we call “interest-driven arts learning”—combined with the power of digital technology.

This report is a step in trying to understand the new territory. It gives a rundown of scholarship in the areas of arts and out-of-school-hours learning; offers a framework for thinking about interest-driven arts learning in a digital age; examines young people’s media consumption; provides a survey of youths’ creative endeavors online and elsewhere, along with a look at the proliferation of technologies that young people are using in the arts; and concludes with thoughts about challenges and possibilities for the future.

A Framework for Thinking About Interest-Driven Arts Learning

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