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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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1. The Importance of Arts Learning


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The arts, particularly the new digital arts, play a central role in empowering youths—how they see themselves, how they learn about the world, and how their work can impact the broader socio-political landscape. This perspective is especially important in an age where social networks and online communities provide widespread distribution of youth perspectives (Jenkins et al., 2009; Shirky, 2008). In addition, because new tools and technology make it easy to infuse media artifacts into original work, art is a means through which youths can express their views on matters of concern to their lives and communities (Freedman, 2010; Peppler, 2010a; Greene, 1995).

The educational philosophy known as constructionism, developed by MIT Professor Seymour Papert (1993), focuses on learning that is mediated by the design and creation of personally meaningful objects as well as the interactions that individuals have with others about their work. Although often applied in math and science contexts, the tenets of constructionism, when applied to arts learning, help explain what makes the creation of art such a powerful way of learning and engaging in the world. Papert was a student of Jean Piaget, the father of constructivism (Kafai, 2006). Similar to proponents of constructivism, constructionists assert that learning is an active process in which people actively construct knowledge from their experiences in the world and revise existing ideas of how things work through processes known as assimilation and accommodation. These processes describe...

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