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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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6. Inviting and Sustaining Participation in The Arts


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Looking across the diverse communities, practices, and genres of art making introduced in this report, we see a range of potential entry points for interest-driven arts learning but also some barriers to greater participation. As Clay Shirky argues, the largest gap in some respects is between doing nothing and doing something for the first time (2008). We have an opportunity to recognize and celebrate youths’ participation in interest-driven arts production, regardless of the form it takes, and envision interest-driven arts learning as inclusively as we can.

Scholars studying Web 2.0, social media, DIY, and the new participa-tory culture have shown that people like to make things and share them with others (Gauntlett, 2011, 2012; Shirky, 2008; Dougherty, 2011b), which helps explain the presence of 80,000 attendees of the Maker Faire each year and the vast number of people committing volunteer time to projects such as Wikipedia, Scratch, and other open-source communities. For many teens, however, the inclination to make art competes with a hard financial reality. Bypassing a paying job (even one that earns minimum wage) in order to socialize and make art at the local library isn’t a choice they can realistically make.

Paid positions and opportunities to make money could be a way to keep this age group engaged in the arts. Some youths, like Ashley Qualls of What-everLife, start their own Web-based companies, incorporating entrepreneurial skills into their...

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