media release

SFU collaboration brings art to the community

October 06, 2011

Susan O’Neill, SFU education, 778.986.1900 (cell),
Jim Sparks, Langley Fine Arts School, 604.888.3113,
Dixon Tam, SFU media relations, 778.782.8742,

Simon Fraser University is partnering with Langley Fine Arts School and Research for Youth Music and Education (RYME) to present an artist lecture series starting this month. Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in education, creativity and innovation kicks off the series Oct. 14.

“We want to find ways of increasing opportunities for young people to engage in artistic learning and creative expression in both their schools and communities,” says SFU education associate professor Susan O’Neill. “Ken Robinson offers a vision for how we might make this possible as we negotiate the myriad of pathways that exist in our digital and globalized world.”

The lecture series invites prominent artists and arts advocates to talk about why the arts matter in today's world. Leading Canadian artists will speak to young artists, their teachers, families and members of their community about what they value about the arts. They will also explore ideas about what the arts have to offer for both personal expression and social change.

“Helping young people understand the value and importance of the arts in their lives and support artistic learning and creative expression requires school, home and community involvement,” says O’Neill. “It also requires collaborative research initiatives that work together to identify issues and challenges that are relevant to particular learning contexts and to address them in ways that are likely to bring about positive transformations and sustainable change.

“The arts are also an important catalyst for change, making connections, and promoting dialogue about the best ways to create meaningful, engaged learning opportunities for all students.”

Other artists in the series are:

Additional Arts Matter events include a post-secondary forum on Jan. 13, 2012, and an arts educators’ workshop on Feb. 17, 2012.

SFU education students will also conduct research in an initiative around the speaker series called the Arts Matter Learning project. It will ask all Langley Fine Arts School students to reflect on their own arts activities, what got them started and keeps them interested, and what benefits they derive from engagement in the arts.

“The research will document both the processes involved in developing the project, the long-term learning benefits and engagement of the students, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of different curriculum approaches and strategies created for the project,” O’Neill says.

“We are also starting a longitudinal research project that will explore students’, teachers’ and parents’ beliefs and values about the arts, and the benefits and challenges of artistic learning that they experience over the years that they spend at the school. We are interested in any changes that take place between younger and older students, and we want to understand and find the best ways of creating a more cohesive curriculum structure and a ‘whole-school community’ built around learning in and through the arts.”

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