Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Reading and Summer Thinking

Since we have been gathering assigned Summer Reading books this week, I was intrigued by a blog post from Daniel Pink (author of A Whole New Mind).

On August 15th, he wrote: "While I’m absolutely, positively in favor of colleges that assign their incoming freshman class one book to read, I’m intrigued by what the University of Pennsylvania is doing this year.

As Real Clear Arts reports, 'Instead of reading a common book, to be discussed on campus, freshmen have been asked to study and be ready to discuss a painting, The Gross Clinic, by Thomas Eakins.'

The goal, according to Penn’s site, is to 'introduce students from the start to the critical skill of interpreting visual material. This choice also reflects a celebration of art in Philadelphia and cultural activism on the part of our citizens, and underscores the importance of the arts in civic life.'

As students and teachers turn to more visual resources, it be interesting to see more assignments like this. Several colleagues at New Trier are already creating assignments using PhotoStory, Weeblies, and Blogs. Often Junior Theme teachers ask that a relevant piece of art be integrated, too. I noticed that Penn's site included links to background information on the art and the artist -- think how we, as librarians, could continue to help inform these discussions by identifying relevant materials and resources.

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