In summer 1990, at Allegheny College, a three-week program for children explored the interface of creative writing and creative dance. We called ourselves Children's Creative Arts. In that first summer we attracted 30 5-10 year old children and one Allegheny student intern. Each succeeding summer we added another expressive area to our curriculum and another year of age to our student population--we grew together. First we added rhythm, then visual art, then creative drama and storytelling, and finally vocal music. In the summer of 1994, the year we added the vocal music component we discovered an inquiring interdisciplinary theme--Listen, here it comes again. The theme was chosen to remind ourselves that not only do we introduce new ideas each year, we also return to ever-deeper appreciation of old ideas--in this way we evolve dimensionally.
That 1994 summer program affirmed and fulfilled our sense of the possible in arts-centered expressive inquiry. The program could not have been stronger. Coherence marked our investigations and eloquence marked student expressions. Highly imaginative, well-crafted, and meaningful work emerged from an enthusiastic community of fifty students, five faculty, six Allegheny student interns, ten classroom teachers, and many parents. We were ecstatic because we though, in this our fifth year, we had figured 'it' out.
Our euphoria was short lived. When our faculty gathered for evaluating and planning, we heard ourselves wondering if there wasn't 'more'. We were concerned that our arts faculty did not have a rich enough understanding of science to responsibly guide meaningful explorations into many of the 'why' questions our students were asking. For instance, in music class: "What makes sounds sound?" Some in dance class were asking about gravity and momentum, others in art class about the relation between light and color--and so on.
Our habitual meanings for 'interdisciplinary' and 'aesthetic' had been limited to the arts. So anxious were we to make certain that interdisciplinary inquiry included that arts in general and dance in particular that we had created our own exclusions. We had confined our worlds.
Maxine Greene inspired us: "...to interpret from as many vantage points as possible lived experience, the ways there are of being in the world". We were thinking of Maxine's powerful text Landscapes of Learning when the following year, 1995, Children's Creative Arts became Creating Landscapes for Children and Young Teens. That was the year Math and Science were added to our curriculum and Rhythms, Patterns, and Cycles became our first truly interdisciplinary theme. Our theme in summer 2012 is Circles. In between, we have explored Imagine; Energy; Tension; Transitions; Opposites; Making Connections; Time; Balance; Transformations and Change; Natural Wonders; and Darkness, Light, and Shadow, Sounds and Shapes, Bugs and Blues
Allegheny College/Summer Landscapes, Box 25, 520 North Main Street, Meadville, PA 16335
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