Paola Quintero – Master’s Thesis

Hello, my name is Paola Quintero. I am a graduate student in the Art Education MA program at City College and I’m also a museum educator. Before joining the program I did many other things: I traveled and lived in many places, worked in the art world, I went to law school and got a law degree, and I worked in the film industry in various roles including costume design and stop-motion animation. As you can assume from this short bio, I am very curious about a lot of things in this world! Above all, I am passionate about all forms of art expression, creativity, and the power of imagination.

For my thesis project I started out by using my imagination. I asked myself, if I could design my own world, how would it be? What would I change? I was inspired to think of the future by the book “Education in a Time Between Worlds: Essays on the Future of Schools, Technology, and Society” by Zachary Stein. Then I started thinking about the lack of balance in the world- lack of balance in the treatment of Mother Earth, lack of balance in life/work/school and I thought, “If I could design my own world, I would like to see more harmony in educational spaces”.

I reflected back on my own educational experience (in the mid 90s) and realized that even though I had received very strong academic training in elementary, middle, and high school, there had been no balance. The school I went to was very competitive and focused on grades and test scores. I definitely think my high school was harder than college! How well did this school prepare me for challenges that have nothing to do with test scores and memorization of facts? How about imagination? Critical thinking? How about play? Joy? Pleasure? How about compassion- not just for your neighbor- but for yourself?

Trying to find answers (and healing) to this lack of balance has been my life-long project. Several years ago I started looking at East Asian traditions and philosophies like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. Particularly interesting to me is the concept of dualism called “Ying and Yang” and in the concept of “Wu-Wei” (non-action). Consequently, for my thesis I will be looking at the implications of applying a Taoist approach to teaching and communicating with students. In order to collect my data I will seek out and interview educators who already incorporate these principles in their work.

In chapter 42 of the book Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu it says, “The ten thousand things carry yin and embrace yang./ They achieve harmony by combining these forces”. I am excited to research this topic as I believe Art Education is in a unique position to create the education movements that will be needed in the future. 

 

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