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Teachers College, Columbia University
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TC Receives $1 Million Grant to Create Study Guide for the HBO Series "Masterclass"

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Hal Abeles, Professor of Music Education

Hal Abeles, Professor of Music Education

HMargaret Crocco, Professor of Social Studies and Education

Margaret Crocco, Professor of Social Studies and Education


Teachers College has been awarded a two-year, $1,045,690 grant from the Young Arts Educational Foundation to create a study guide to accompany nine shows from the first year of the HBO television series “Masterclass.”

The nine-part series chronicles the Young Arts Program of the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts, which offers select high school students from around the country the chance to be mentored by some of the world’s greatest artists. The first year of the series featured tenor Placido Domingo, playwright Edward Albee, actress Liv Ullman, dance impresario Jacques d’Amboise and visual artist Olafur Elliason, among others. The series is produced and directed by the Emmy Award winners Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, the creators of “Chimps: So Like Us,” “Heart of a Child,” “Kindergarten” and “Rehearsing a Dream.”

The study guide will present an interdisciplinary set of discussion questions and learning activities keyed to the arts as well as math, science, English Language Arts and social studies.

Margaret Crocco, Professor of Social Studies and Education and Hal Abeles, Professor of Music Education, are serving as co-prime investigators for the grant. They will partner with the EdLab unit of TC’s Gottesman Libraries, which will create a Website for research, evaluation, professional development and outreach efforts related to the project. Teachers College Press will manufacture and distribute 50,000 DVDs and copies of the study guide for U.S. middle- and high schools. The Web site, which will be fully functional by June 2012, will allow for free downloading of the study guide.

“Teachers College shares with the Young Arts organization a concern that arts education has been marginalized over the last decade of educational reform via No Child Left Behind with its emphasis on literacy, numeracy, science and technology in K-12 schooling,” Crocco and Abeles wrote in their proposal for the project. “The narrowing of the curriculum and heightened emphasis on accountability has resulted in an overemphasis on tested subjects. Combined with school district budget cuts initiated since 2008, the above trends have meant that subjects stimulating creativity and imagination have been dramatically de-emphasized. Teachers are hungry for new materials that provide novel and attractive ways of engaging students in learning that promotes creativity and imagination.”

While assembling national advisory board for the project, Crocco and Abeles will work with the filmmakers to develop other video assets for the Web site that will provide additional insights into the ways in which selected “masters” developed their artistic expertise. Together with the filmmakers, they also will procure additional footage of other forms of mastery such as local students in Double Dutch contests or slam poetry jams.

TC will approach professional organizations such as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Council for Teachers of English, the National Association of Music Educators, and the National Art Education Association to ensure that the final products of the effort reach appropriate audiences.


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