Year Four Art21 Educators: Don Ball and Tricia Fitzpatrick

Last week we introduced Shannah Burton and Linda Churchwell-Vega from the New City School in St. Louis, Missouri. This week, in the second installment of Art21 Educators introductions, we bring you Tricia Fitzpatrick and Don Ball, our first participants from Canada!

Tricia and Don teach 9-12th grade students at Cawthra Park Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, home to a regional arts program. The two had been working at the same school for over a year when they were each asked to attend a summer workshop for teachers. They quickly realized that they had similar approaches to education–valuing creative thinking, experiential learning, and the intersections between art and science. In a system that compartmentalizes learning, Tricia and Don think more holistically.

Over the past ten years, Tricia and Don have been developing and implementing a cross-curricular, international, Visual Arts and Science travel program. It began with a goal to show students how visual art and science are connected both here at home, and in cultures far away. Tricia and Don have traveled with students to Costa Rica (2003, 2005), Ecuador (2007, 2009), and Peru (2011), to experience the art and science of Central and South America through home-stay cultural exchanges (living with Spanish speaking families and working in the community), visits to contemporary art galleries and historical museums, and the exploration of diverse ecosystems. Additionally, their students have learned to appreciate the value of responsible travel.

Don, who is the art teacher, introduced Tricia, the science teacher, to Art21 a number of years ago. Tricia told us:

“…I have come to see contemporary art as a lens through which you can see the world as well as a tool by which artists communicate their ideas about the world. It is fluid and broad–it is more than just the art of our time, it is the art of expressing ideas, emotion, values, view points on the events and issues that frame our experience of the world around us.

I also believe contemporary art can be a tool for students to use to express their ideas and to investigate their surroundings. Like science, my own field, contemporary art makes observations, asks questions and looks for possible answers. It tests its subjects and its audience. It invites participation, not passive viewing. Contemporary art has a place in most classrooms. I want to explore how I can help students step outside the traditional lab report and written paper to express their understanding and questions about the science around them.”

Tricia and Don will continue to work together during the 2012-2013 school year as part of the Art21 Educators program. We are curious to see how Art21 will influence their curricula and cultural exchange programs!

* This post was written with Dana Helwick, Art21 Educators Intern.

Contributor
Jessica Hamlin is an educator who focuses on integrating contemporary visual art and media into K–12 classrooms and developing professional learning communities for educators. In addition to directing the Art21 Educators program, Hamlin is an adjunct faculty member and the program advisor of the Art Education program at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University.
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