Left v. Right

(And I'm not talking about politics.)

Identity unveilings can be lots of fun. Remember how much our left brains hurt trying to comprehend a certain rock icon's thinking when he revealed the "name" and logo for the Artist Formerly Known As Prince? That certainly was an interesting social experiment, and suffice it to say that the transition was a little smoother last night when organizers of "Arts Partners" (myself included) unveiled their new identity in "The Right Brain Initiative."

One of the first things people always say when discussing the differences between the left brain and the right brain is, "now, remind me: which one is the left brain and which one is the right brain?" One of my hopes is that this identify will actually help educate folks instantly that it's the right brain, people, that is responsible for creative thinking. And as National Teacher of the Year Michael Geisen pointed out last night, the realities of the 21st century demand that we more fully engage this hemisphere when we're trying to teach our children reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.

How fortuitous, then, that K-8 students throughout the Portland metropolitan area will begin receiving this kind of integrated arts learning later this year, and that 4-6 years from now, every student in our region will be flexing their right brain muscles en route to higher achievement. Higher test scores, lower dropout rates, improved social skills, a well-trained workforce, increased potential for innovation -- the list of benefits goes on and on.

I thought the local branding firm North did a great job capturing the spirit of what's unfolding here, how an infusion of creative thinking, inspired by our local artists and arts organizations, will help our kids become more holistic learners. Rather than a singular logo they have created a series of drawings, many from actual children, that will rotate on a regular basis (much like they do at The Right Brain Initiative website), representing the endless creativity that emerges when we put our kids' right brains to work.


MightyToyCannon said...

Any chance that North's video introducing "The Right Brain Initiative" will be posted online soon?

culturejock said...

We're making a couple tiny tweeks, and hope to post it online on Monday for all the world to see.

Anonymous said...

North also did some great commercials for PGE recently, check them out. The Right Brain logos are really fun, and the initiative looks like a great program. Congrats to everyone involved.

MightyToyCannon said...

So I dug the animated video that introduced "The Right Brain Initiative" last week. And Culture Jock has been yapping about how great North was to work with on the project. And the post by Anonymous piqued my curiosity about the PGE commercials. I do the obvious and try the Google, using my best googlin' abilities to narrow the search: "North, design, portland, oregon, branding ..." SEARCH. Good luck with that. I eventually discover that the solution is simpler than I could have imagined: www.north.com

Who would have figured they cornered that url? If you're in a hurry to find information about North, good luck navigating the site. But, if you (like me), enjoy creative, immersive, playful "web experiences," Go North.com young man (and ladies).

culturejock said...

The video has arrived!

If I can forget about the election and the economy for a moment, this is a very exciting time to be involved in arts education. Reading the Americans for the Arts Cultural Policy Listserve every week, two major models seem to be emerging among a dozen cities or so that are making very serious efforts to restore arts education activities accross the public school system. While some communities are making their push against No Child Left Behind and working to restore arts specialists and music classes and art lessons in their grade schools, a smaller set (lead by Dallas and now Portland) are working to integrate arts learning (such as dance, drama, music and art) into the standard curriculum subjects (like reading, writing, math, social studies, and science).

Now I believe that both are vital, of course, and I know I'm too close to all of this to be impartial but I suspect that the latter, more integrated approach that's being tested with The Right Brain Initiative will really catch fire the next 5-10 years. This approach better addresses holistic learning that is going to be so critical in building the innovative workforce of the future. Not all children have an affinity for music, for example, but almost every child learns a curriculum lesson more concretely when it's put to music (be it their ABCs or a science teacher who assembles his students in small groups to come up with rap songs to learn the periodic table of elements). In the weeks ahead I'll be looking to publish some other concrete examples of integrated arts learning experiences.

Given the economic conditions we're all facing, the Portland model may have to measure its growth a little more than originally anticipated, but I still can't wait to see where all of this goes.