VIRTUES OF EX­CEL­LENCE Art Pro­gram

Imperial Valley Press - - CLASSIFIED - BY DAN EVERS Spe­cial to this News­pa­per maria@rain­forestart­pro­ject.org

For over a half of a cen­tury, there has been an on­go­ing de­bate over the ef­fects of vi­o­lent tele­vi­sion im­ages on the be­hav­ior of im­pres­sion­able youth. In the mean­time, there has been a dra­matic in­crease in me­dia vi­o­lence, en­hanced by ex­tremely re­al­is­tic and gory video games.

Be­gin­ning in the early 1960’s with Dr. Al­bert Ban­dura’s land­mark stud­ies at Stan­ford Univer­sity, there is now over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that sup­ports the fact that there is a very real con­nec­tion between me­dia vi­o­lence and neg­a­tive child be­hav­ior. Top med­i­cal jour­nals have joined in to ex­press their deep con­cerns.

In­deed, in 2005, The Lancet pub­lished a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of this sub­ject. The bot­tom line: “The weight of the stud­ies sup­ports the po­si­tion that exposure to me­dia vi­o­lence leads to ag­gres­sion, de­sen­si­ti­za­tion to­ward vi­o­lence and lack of sym­pa­thy for vic­tims of vi­o­lence, par­tic­u­larly in chil­dren”.

When you also con­sider the re­cent stud­ies which are re­port­ing the ad­verse ef­fects of so­cial me­dia, we can only con­clude that this is, in­deed, a tough time to be a kid. It is only through the de­vel­op­ment of a strong moral iden­tity that we ac­quire the nav­i­ga­tion skills to main­tain a pos­i­tive and pro­duc­tive di­rec­tion through­out the course our lives.

Val­ues are the foun­da­tion for build­ing trust…the key to happiness in per­sonal re­la­tion­ships and the col­lec­tive re­source that is fun­da­men­tal to the suc­cess of our na­tion. In his re­cent book, Com­mu­nity Be­fore Self, Malin Burn­ham re­veals the Seven Virtues of Ex­cel­lence, which are the re­sult of lessons learned and fol­lowed through­out his amaz­ing ca­reer. Th­ese virtues pro­vide a roadmap for liv­ing a life of pur­pose and mean­ing, which pos­i­tively im­pact our qual­ity of life while serv­ing to im­prove our schools, neigh­bor­hoods and com­mu­ni­ties.

From the value of “plan­ning and com­mit­ment” to the in­dis­pens­able virtues of “team­work and fair play”, Malin’s list is re­mark­ably timely for those car­ing to learn the skills which are re­quired to suc­ceed in our com­plex and rapidly ac­cel­er­at­ing so­ci­ety.

Last Septem­ber, the Burn­ham Foun­da­tion an­nounced that it would be work­ing with San Diego Uni­fied School District and the Rain­for­est Art Project to de­velop an en­tirely orig­i­nal ap­proach to teach­ing virtues in our pub­lic schools. As you can imag­ine, th­ese are sub­jects, which may ap­pear re­mote and in­tan­gi­ble to the av­er­age sixth-grader. The Burn­ham-Rain­for­est ap­proach is to com­bine chal­leng­ing and ap­pro­pri­ate art projects for th­ese virtues so that each one ac­quires clar­ity through its unique shape, color, tex­ture, shading and per­spec­tive. Here are a cou­ple of ex­am­ples:

In les­son 2: Com­mit­ment — Take Re­spon­si­bil­ity, stu­dents learn that small im­prove­ments can make big re­sults. For the art les­son, they will cre­ate a fully-ren­dered still-life draw­ing, learn­ing tech­niques of value and shading, and how to make their draw­ing in­ter­est­ing.

In les­son 4: Ded­i­ca­tion — Never Give Up, stu­dents will learn about color and mood by cre­at­ing two sim­i­lar draw­ings, one in warm colors and the sec­ond in cool colors. They will learn to find pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive, and how small de­tails can change the whole pic­ture.

The Virtues of Ex­cel­lence Art Pro­gram will be com­prised of eight sep­a­rate lessons, each one tak­ing between 1-1 1/2 hours over a pe­riod of eight weeks, and are de­signed for grade lev­els six thru eight. Stu­dents will be guided through ev­ery step by pro­fes­sional artists on high-qual­ity video, with beau­ti­ful vi­su­als. All of the nec­es­sary art sup­plies, along with de­tailed work­books will make this pro­gram ex­cep­tion­ally teacher and stu­dent-friendly. More than 90 per­cent of Amer­i­cans be­lieve that val­ues should be taught in our class­rooms, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased Gal­lop Poll. In­ter­est­ingly, this is sim­i­lar to the per­cent­age of peo­ple who want art in our schools on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. By com­bin­ing th­ese equally vi­tal sub­jects, we di­lute nei­ther. In­stead, we cre­ate a dy­namic syn­ergy, which adds im­pact and sub­stance to dis­ci­plines that are, with­out ques­tion, ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial to the fu­ture of our kids and our coun­try.

The Virtues of Ex­cel­lence art pro­gram will be­come avail­able to schools within the Im­pe­rial Val­ley in late March 2018. To re­ceive previews and get on our mail­ing list, please con­tact:

“Teach­ing val­ues, char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment, ethics, and help­ing stu­dents de­velop a moral iden­tity have fallen with re­gard to de­bate over what schools should teach. The founders of this coun­try would likely be hor­ri­fied by the loss of this goal, as they all cite char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment as the way to cre­ate an ed­u­cated and vir­tu­ous cit­i­zenry.” Jes­sica La­hey wrote in The At­lantic

Stu­dents work­ing on the Virtues of Ex­cel­lence mo­saic, the most com­plex Rain­for­est Art Project panorama ever. COURTESY PHOTO

Illustration of the 7 Virtues of Ex­cel­lence mo­saic mu­ral, which will be in­stalled at Perkins Ele­men­tary School. Each virtue is rep­re­sented by a moun­tain peak.

Mary­beth Burn­ham with the Burn­ham Foun­da­tion and Evers with the Rain­for­est Art Project dis­cussing the new Virtues of Ex­cel­lence Art Pro­gram. Mary­beth stud­ied at the Rhode Is­land School of De­sign, and is a pro­fes­sional de­signer and strong ad­vo­cate for art in pub­lic schools.

Dan Evers with Malin Burn­ham and Fer­nando Her­nan­dez, prin­ci­pal at Perkins Ele­men­tary School in Bar­rio Lo­gan, San Diego. Perkins was the first Rain­for­est Art Pro­gram, which was spon­sored by the Burn­ham Foun­da­tion eleven years ago, and has con­tin­ued ev­ery year since.

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