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Winter 2011

Creative Thinking: Katrina Sarson, Ed.M.'03

Katrina SarsonWhen Katrina Sarson decided to go back to school, she already had a decade of experience under her belt as a TV producer, having worked for HGTV, ESPN, and the Food Network. But what she really wanted to do was merge this experience with her other interest: arts in education.

This decision was affirmed by her Ed School professors, who enhanced her interest in education. One professor in particular stands out to the Boston native. “When I was in kindergarten, [Professor] Howard Gardner was a student-teacher for my class,” she recalls. “At HGSE, he remembered me. He told me his time as a student-teacher helped him realize that he was more passionate about research and academics. … [The story of his career shift] gave me hope that I would gain a sense of direction that I hadn’t been able to find.”

Sarson is now a producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, where she works on the Emmy Award–winning weekly series Oregon Art Beat, which focuses on local artists and events. As part of that series, Sarson recently wrote and produced the half-hour special Teaching Creativity: Is Art the Answer? about the state of arts education in Oregon’s public schools.

“Funding for education is in trouble in Oregon, and the first thing that usually gets cut is the arts,” she says. “But if kids aren’t exposed to arts in the classroom, how are they learning to think creatively? If we aren’t teaching kids how to think creatively, we’re not teaching them anything.”

With painting, drawing, singing, and dance classes dwindling in public schools, Sarson hopes the half-hour special opens up a dialogue between administrators, policymakers, parents, and teachers about the importance of such activities and the potential consequences of raising generations of children that aren’t encouraged to appreciate the arts or think outside the box.

“It’s a problem that no one is really talking about because it’s not hot and happening on the nightly news,” she says. “Unless you have a child in school, you probably don’t realize there’s a serious lack of the arts in schools these days. And if it’s happening in Oregon, it’s happening in other places. But if no one talks about it, nothing’s going to change.”

Teaching Creativity: Is Art the Answer? can be seen on Oregon Public Broadcasting or at www.opb.org/teachingcreativity.