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The Arts and Play as Educational Media in the Digital Age


Robert Albrecht and Carmine Tabone

The digital revolution we are now entering as educators is an unchartered sea pregnant with wondrous possibilities but laden with a minefield of unforeseen consequences. A pedagogy that overlooks or downplays the disruptive and often dangerous influence of digital media on childhood development is necessarily a very shortsighted one.

More than just highlighting our misgivings about digital media, however, this book has a purpose far more ambitious and infinitely more useful. Based upon 45 years of work with young people in Jersey City classrooms, day camps, housing projects, libraries, church basements and community centers, the authors propose a pedagogical strategy that uses hands-on experiences in the arts as a strategy to offset and counterbalance the dominance of digital media in the lives of children.

Rather than call for the elimination of digital media—clearly an impossibility even if it were desirable—the authors maintain that children need to be exposed to non-digital, non-electronic experiences that cultivate alternative ways of thinking, feeling, and being in the world. In sum, the book does not call for an end to the digital, but outlines ways in which the arts and creative forms of play help to establish a balance in the education and socialization of children as we enter more deeply into the Digital Age.

Robert Albrecht received his doctorate in media ecology from New York University where he studied under Neil Postman. His book Mediating the Muse (Dorothy Lee Award) and his song cycle Song of the Poet (John Culkin Award) were both honored by the Media Ecology Association. Besides his lifelong work with children, Albrecht has taught media arts at New Jersey City University for over 20 years.

Carmine Tabone holds an Ed.S. from Seton Hall University and a M.A. from New York University and has been leading theater and education projects for young people and teachers since 1970. Tabone is the founder and the director of the Educational Arts Team. He has written three handbooks, co-written numerous articles and co-authored a book on the uses of drama for interpersonal and academic growth.