The Fine and Performing Arts & Education

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. (Paulo Freire)

I see too many public service commercials-today-exhorting us to support the Performing and Fine Arts in public education. We, as a nation, have evidently become so low-brow, or unsophisticated, that we can no longer see the need for Art education in our schools. So now, we have our children pleading with us, on television commercials, to keep Art education alive. This is a sad state of affairs for us and our children, because art is what truly separates us from the beasts and allows us to rise above the mundane drudgery of life. As many others, I believe art should be at the center of education and not just because it’s good for us. Art stimulates a child’s cognitive and affective domains, as well as their motor skills, which leads to learning, discovery, creativity and motivation.

Academics are very important, of course, but too often they only stimulate a very small portion of the student’s mind and heart. There are three, basic domains of learning: the Cognitive (mind), Affective (emotions or feelings) and Motor-Skills (hands-on). These three domains are key to our thinking/reasoning, learning, problem solving and creating. A healthy mind (Cognitive) is capable of taking in, retaining and processing information, which can then be applied, if retained and used, to the individual’s life. Emotions and feelings (Affective) are closely connected to an individual’s learning, because they aid in retaining and applying information, as well as stimulating the desire to learn more. Seeing, hearing, speaking, the ability to write, walk and run are all part of the individual’s Motor-skills. Without these three domains, learning, needless to say, would be impossible. Reading, writing, math and the sciences stimulate the cognitive and motor skills domains quite effectively, but the affective is too often short changed.

If we think back to our school days, then we should be able to remember that the memorization of facts and successfully spitting them back out on tests was our main concern as students. This is very much a part of the learning process, and I’m not denying that, but where does the Affective domain play a significant part in this teaching process? In much of this way of learning the affective is absent, and-therefore-much of the educational material, which has just been learned, has no real application in the individual’s life and is forgotten. I remember very little about higher level math, the periodic table and scientific jargon. Why is that? It didn’t relate to my life nor touch me in a deep way. This is not to say that I, or anyone else, shouldn’t have taken math and science classes, but what I am saying is academics are less effective than they can be, because they tend to ignore the Affective domain.

I contend that the Arts use all three domains effectively, and they can-therefore-stimulate the student to apply, as well as retain, what they’ve learned. Creativity is key in this process. The Performing and Fine Arts have a distinct advantage-educationally-in their ability to allow students to create as they learn. In painting, students are in the process of creating at the same time they’re mixing colors and learning brush techniques. The same applies to sculpting and photography students. Many middle and high school music directors are-now-using computer programs to stimulate their students to compose as they learn to play and sing. Dance and theatre programs are examples, as well, of applying skills as their students learn. This artistic, educational process employs the cognitive and motor skills domains, but it also stimulates the affective. The art student experiences the sense of joy and satisfaction that comes from successfully learning, and then being able to immediately apply this knowledge in a very personal way. The Arts can enhance a student’s ability to express their emotions in a very positive way. These students have ownership of what they have learned and are able to express this ownership through creativity. The Performing or Fine Arts student is motivated-educationally-beyond just memorizing facts and passing tests, because they’re using their newly-acquired knowledge to express what lies deep in their heart and mind.

Surprisingly, the arts and sports have much in common, educationally. The basketball or football player, as well as the long-distant runner, learn their skills while applying them. The learning of physical techniques and immediate application reinforces the athlete’s desire to learn and perform even more. In team sports, such as football, baseball and basketball, the student athlete learns to work with others to produce a product, or team. The young athlete learns that the whole, or team, is greater than the sum of its parts, or players, as do dancers, actors, singers and instrumentalists. As in performing ensembles, these young athletes experience the joy that comes from accomplishing something special with others. They learn, in a very intimate way, responsibility towards others and that the team is dependent on the very weakest athlete, as well as the strongest and most gifted. There’s really very little difference between a football player and a band member, when it comes to being responsible and understanding that it takes everyone-involved-to be successful. This is such a valuable and wonderful lesson, and it is learned primarily, through the affective domain.

Educational collaboration between artistic disciplines is a great way for young artists to learn while they create. The pairing of young instrumentalists with dancers and visual artists, or actors with singers, can open up a whole new world of artistic exploration, discovery and creativity. These collaborations can become a great vehicle for learning and motivation, as any arts teacher who has experienced this process will testify. The educational process becomes more important than the outcome, or testing results, because it is in the process of exploration, discovery and creativity where learning really occurs. The educational outcome is secondary, because it is only used, in this case, to measure curricular goals. The motivation for and enjoying of learning comes through the process of collaboration, exploration, discovery and creating.

In academia, the emphasis-today-is placed more on the outcome, or testing and grades, which, in my estimation, is a huge mistake. Academic instructors could learn much from their counterparts in the arts. The government and its politically motivated, educational policies, of course, stands in the way of any successful, corrective change to academic teaching methods. Political agendas, such as, “No child left behind” are meaningless and worthless to students and teachers, because they’re not concerned, as they so hypocritically claim, with the success of the individual learner. Instead, these agendas are merely an attempt to soothe the fevered brows of unsatisfied constituents.

I will agree with academic teachers that their process seems to be more set in stone than with the arts, and the only real way they can measure educational outcomes is through testing. There has to be a way-however-to allow a math, science, English or history student to become more involved in the process of learning. English teachers have a distinct advantage, since they could use writing essays and poems to instill a sense of ownership in their students. Their students-then-could use their essays and poems to collaborate with young composers, actors and dancers, as an example. Even though it would be difficult, science, language and math teachers could also seek these same avenues for educational exploration, discovery and creativity, which would-then-hopefully-lead to a student’s retention/application, ownership and motivation. This, of course, will be impossible, as long as we allow our government to force academic teachers to teach-solely-towards the outcome, or “standardized” testing.

American students, every year, fall farther behind their counterparts around the world, academically and intellectually, while their parents and teachers continue to buy into the educational propaganda, which is spewed out by the American-political machine in Washington. Every year, Art education becomes less and less important in our schools, because of it’s effectiveness in producing students who can think, reason, question, learn and create. Realistically speaking, Art education may be perceived as a threat to those who run this country and desire a race of middle-class, mindless, unquestioning and unsophisticated robots.

Education is the responsibility of the parents first and foremost, and if parents aren’t capable or willing to fight for their children’s education, then I guess America is doomed. If I were a parent-today-there would be no way I could allow my child to be intellectually molested by our current, public-education system. My child would either be home-schooled, at best, or in a private education system.

The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and long lasting nations in the history of the world, and yet, as the Roman government declined, then so did its human values and arts. There is only one piece of music remaining, one mere fragment, after one thousand years of Roman culture. Rome literally disintegrated from within, because of a corrupt government and decaying society. The United States is less than two-hundred and fifty years old, and we’re already starting the lingering slide into governmental corruption, cultural ignorance and decay. Perhaps, it’s too late to save our society, but if it isn’t, then it’s time to start rebuilding what we have allowed to be torn down for the last one-hundred and fifty years. If it isn’t too late, then we must begin to rebuild our values and education system. Our values and education system may not have been perfect, in the past, but they were worthy of being fixed, properly.

Most successful, world cultures, throughout history, have been measured by the quality of their philosophers and artists far more than their forms of government and technological advances. If we disappear as a nation, in another century or so, what will we be remembered for? What will be our legacy to the world?

Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine. (Magdalena Abakanowicz)

In my estimation, art is an integral part of being human and-therefore-is integral to human education. If we die to our affective inclinations, then we cease to be human in any real sense, and the results of this can be seen on MTV and its “Hip-Hop” generation. Money, material objects, self-absorbed egos, low-life affections and brutal power will never make us more human, if anything these extrinsic motivators will simply and affectively dehumanize us. “The one with the most toys in the end,” loses! Art education can help us to see ourselves, the world and-yes-God more clearly. We are more than flesh and blood, and our affective, as well as cognitive, attributes are exhorting us to remember this truth. The arts should be at the center of our children’s education, and our children shouldn’t have to plead with us to give them what they need and desire!

How the Cricut Expression Can Help Teachers in the Classroom

For many teachers, the Cricut Expression die cut machine tops their back-to-school wish list of classroom tools. This die cut machine by manufacturer Provo Craft, typically used by scrapbookers and other crafters, has many features and add-on accessories, including the Classmate line of educational cartridges, which will not only make the job of teaching easier, but over time, will also save schools money.

The most obvious example is the classroom bulletin board. In the past, teachers either had to purchase expensive die cuts to decorate their classroom bulletin board, or would have to painstakingly cut out letters and pictures by hand, in order to create a display that caught the attention and interest of their students. The Cricut Expression has the capability of cutting letters and other shapes in a variety of sizes, spanning from a quarter of an inch to almost twenty-four inches in size. Using this tool, educators are able to create an appealing bulletin board with nothing more than a small stack of card stock or other colored paper.

Although the Expression is great for cutting basic lettering and shapes, Provo Craft is specifically targeting those in the education field with its line of Classmate cartridges, which are designed for use in the classroom. This line of Cricut cartridges for early childhood educators and elementary school teachers can be used for teaching several subjects, including language, phonics, social studies, and even cursive.

Using the 50 States cartridge, for example, teachers can create a cutout of each state. In addition to being used for displays, these die cuts can be pieced together by students to form a puzzle of the United States, making it a useful tool for social studies and geography lessons.

Also part of the Classmate line, the Word Builders cartridge series is designed to help elementary students with their language, phonetic, and spelling skills. Using the Word Builders cartridges, educators can make puzzle-type cutouts of letters and groups of letters. These die cuts, when pieced together in the correct combinations by students, form words.

This is just a couple of the many ways that these types of die cuts can be used directly for instructing students. Whether it’s making puzzles, or creating their own educational version of popular children’s games, such as “Go Fish”, or even making bookmarks and stickers to reward students for their work, teachers can use the Cricut Expression countless ways in the classroom.

Adding Express Detailing Services to Your Already Successful Car Wash or Automotive Business

Express Detailing is a term, which has been marketed and inevitably defined by fixed site car washes in their attempt to increase average per ticket transactions. By using express detailing as an “add-on” service for between $35.00-$60.00 they are able to up sell a $4.99 exterior wash direct mail coupon that a customer brings in to a $40.00- 70.00 charge. Their theory is sound and tends to work well for them. A car wash in and out wash which takes 10-15 minutes for vacuum, tunnel wash and dry and then another 15-20 minutes for a solvent polymer wax, with dash and tire dressing is consistent with their industry $/hour goals. Now car wash owners have gone one step further with The Blue Coral Wax Treatment.

This is a wax put on while the car is still wet, thus eliminating the drying step. The wax is rubbed on the wet car, dries to a haze and is wiped off which dramatically increases efficiency and adds even greater revenue. Thus by speeding up the process they cater even more to the new consumers attitude. “I want it now”, the quicker the better, give me my detail, I have things to do, I’m outta here. Similar customer attitudes are found in the demands of e-commerce where you buy a product today and it shows up at your doorstep next morning guaranteed by Fed EX or Two day service by RPS, Airbourne, UPS, Emery Express, or Fed EX.

In a world of co-branding, point of destination strategies and co-op marketing, all industries are evolving and diversifying to capture greater profits within a single brick and mortar location or as is appearing more commonly on Internet web sites. In general much of the new thinking has been customer driven due to lifestyle changes, low unemployment, time factors and quality of life issues of the consumer. If you look at amazon.com which now sells tapes, records and toys when previously it was strictly a books sales site. It can quickly add new revenue streams by offering it’s customer base more reasons to buy more things. You to see the revolutionizing effect of this trend? We have on-line search engines being paid million dollars from car companies and furniture companies for their industries exclusive rights to e-commerce directly on those sites. As Starbucks begins to sell housewares on their web site, and Home Depots add McDonalds inside their stores and Bank of Wal-Mart opening it’s own brand of bank within its 5 superstores; you have to think that ‘express detailing’ at car washes is simply a natural progression. Many professional detailers would disagree saying these types of services are different animals. Some complain that fixed site car washes have ruined the true definition of the term detailing. Yet if you look closely this is nothing more than true capitalism in a free market system generating additional revenues with existing resources.

Think about it for a minute. Professional Detailing Centers often do glass repair, window tinting, pin-striping and graphics, gold plating, ozone treatment, dent repair, color sanding, upholstery repair, wood grain paneling, and even after market auto accessories. These are all industries in their own right and these industry leaders with their own definitions and trade publications and accepted operational procedures complain about us offering similar services as professional detailers. They say we are stealing their customers and not providing the same quality workmanship as the craftsmen do in those industries, which may or may not be true. For example a person specializing in upholstery repair for twenty years can obviously do a better quality job than a detailer on fabrics of almost any type. You are affecting his bottom line with an inferior service since you don’t have 20 years experience in upholstery repair understanding the dynamics of thirty different types of fabric, dyes, and manufacturers suggestions for preservation.

Should he be mad at you for offering a greater array of service to you customers? No, the upholstery craftsman will need to have his own set of value added services and products he can offer to his customers such as removing and replacing seats and headliners and using the highest grade fabrics and stainless steel screws. You must have a specialty or an area of expertise, but you must also understand and then cater to the needs and more importantly the wants of your customer. If you don’t know their wants and needs, ask your customers directly in an informal survey or indirectly during conversations.

Saying that fixed site car washes have destroyed the meaning of the word detailing may be true to some extent. Yet one must ask, “Did McDonalds destroy the definition of a hearty breakfast when it introduced the ‘Egg McMuffin’ in Santa Barbara, CA?” Comparing ‘express detailing’ with a complete detailing service is merely another apples and oranges issue. We as professional detailers realize that there is no comparison. Why does this make so many of us angry? It is all those years of perfection being thrown out the window? But do not look at it that way, look at it as an incredible opportunity. Channel the frustration and anger into energy and perseverance. The fixed site car washes with their quick wax, ‘express detail’ have popularized the phrase ‘detailing’ to an entirely new group of consumers who normally might not be interested in your services prior to this introduction. It is up to us to expand upon this and take advantage of the fact that now the general workforce is buying detailing services. Sure it’s inferior, but a need, a want and desire to spend money for detailing has been formally introduced. This has opportunity written all over it as Bud Abraham said in a speech he delivered at the ICA (International Carwash Association) annual conference in Las Vegas.

Many feel that this new spin on the old terminology of detailing has adversely affected the professional detailers retail business. Fixed detailers must adapt to this market challenge or loose a large percentage of their retail detail volume and thus have their profitability affected. By differentiating their service and educating customers to the definition of a ‘Full Detail’ or ‘Complete Detailing Service’ the professional detailer is able to cater to the ideal retail customer in the middle to upper income classes. Generally members of this market segment understand the difference and are aware of the value of a real detail versus an express service. This high-end crowd can be as much as 15-35% of the professional detailers retail clientele. Let’s say that a Professional Detailer has 70% of its business in new and used Car Dealerships and other fleet customers who occasionally need detailing. Vehicles such as rent-a-cars, work vans, or sales cars for corporations and 30% in individual retail, the higher per car profit of all services offered. It is not good business sense for a Professional Detailer to simply ignore that much of their customer base, and therefore they must develop a strategy to help customers and clients understand the difference between the express service and full detail.

Some of the communication problems come into play when a customer is convinced that the $50.00-$60.00 (sometimes as low as $35.00) he or she paid for an express detail is the same service they will get when they pay a $100.00+ complete detailing service. Even when the higher price comes from a professional and reputable detailing establishment and not a 30 minute ‘express service’ from a car wash. Unfortunately unless otherwise educated, perception becomes reality.

The problems are compounded when you throw the mobile detailer into the loop. Usually charging $60.00-$80.00 and then calling his detailing services a ‘full detail’. This market player is fiercely competitive for price as he attempts to establish his new business and has the advantage of on-site service. Many of these new small companies will be in business for a summer or two, or at most a couple of years. Many opt later to establish fixed sites and raise their prices due to increased capital expenditures such as a phone system, fixtures, electrical work, reclaim devises and work benches and increased overhead or rent, electricity, office supplies, water, and reclaim waste water removal. Established mobile detailers who last over two years generally develop a larger clientele and raise their prices simply because of supply and demand economics. Their prices will usually be $100.00+ for a complete detail.

Many also offer a monthly program including washes, detailing services and monthly billing. Most mobile operations have not adopted the term Express Detailing because they believe they do a better job than the car washes with regard to quality. Many mobile operations will continue the low price of their original full detail of $60.00-$80.00, but now use the term ‘mini-detail’. This allows them to charge a full detail price to new customers but still offer previous customers and those original customers’ word of mouth referrals a low price without giving away services. It also allows them to tap into the customers that may not be able to afford a real detail but still wish to have detailing services for ego reasons, being able to tell friends, “I had my car detailed.” Why own a BMW if you can’t have it detailed. This appeals to the young executive on his way up the ladder.

A few mobile detailers have used the term ‘express detailing’, which adds even more confusion to the issue. “What is an Express Detail anyway?” Most of the new mobile detailers eventually go out of business or raise prices due to environmental reclaim issues, competition, seasonal weather, lack proper image, inferior learn as you go training or lack of industry knowledge. Many of the new professional detailers in our industry come from the mobile sector and they tend to price and deliver whatever they can sell to the customer, using the word detail whenever they think it will command a higher price. They will use the word detailing loosely to sell the job.

I think it would be fair to say that the word ‘detail’ has been over used for marketing purposes at fixed site car washes and has caused problems with the definition and mystique of professional automobile detailing. It has caused havoc for those true professionals who have worked hard and sacrificed to keep the word sacred for many years and have prided themselves in the most excellent service.

Many Old Time Detailing Professionals have been forced to address this express detailing issue by adding express services to their menu of services. This appeases the customer’s desire for quick and affordable service between quarterly of semi-annual full detailing appointments. Sometimes this cannibalizes full detailing services but if done correctly it can attract new customers to your business ho will eventually try the real thing. Once they do they will be hooked forever. By letting your customer’s experience a full detailing service you will build your complete detailing customer base.

See the chart provided to us by Nicholas J. Vacco, a seasoned detailing veteran. These are the things most full and complete detailing services include:

FULL DETAILING-INSPECTION CHECK-LIST

EXTERIOR:

_____ Make sure all wax is removed

_____ Check for wax dust

_____ Check emblems and crevices

_____ Check to see if \chrome has been polished

_____ Check grill and all front areas for bug removal

_____ Look at rocker panels for tar

_____ Check wheels for brake dust

_____ Check white walls

_____ Make sure tires are dressed evenly

_____ Check wheel wells

_____ Make sure wheel well lips are clean

_____ Check all bezels for wax removal and cleanliness

_____ Check windows for smears/paint overspray

_____ Look at mirrors for cleanliness

_____ Check headlights/tail lights for cleanliness

_____ Check moldings, weather striping, front air dams, bumper strips for dressing

_____ Make sure vinyl top is clean and conditioned

_____ Check wipers for overspray

INTERIOR:

_____ Make sure carpet is vacuumed

_____ Check under seats

_____ Check ash trays

_____ Check rear shelf

_____ Check carpet for stains and cleanliness

_____ Check seats for stains and cleanliness

_____ Look at door panes for cleanliness

_____ Check dash board; ac vents, gauges, radio knobs, steering column, levers, crevices

_____ Check all chrome including seat belt ends, door handles, step plates

_____ Make sure all vinyl and leather has been evenly dressed

_____ Check headliner, visors, sail panels

_____ Check dome light area

_____ Check seat belts

_____ Make sure all pedals are cleaned

_____ Check lower dash for dressing

_____ Check all door jambs for cleanliness and tar removal

_____ Check consoles and glove compartment for cleanliness

_____ Check windows; below inspection stickers, inside rear brake lights, window tips

_____ Check rear view mirror

_____ Check vanity mirrors

_____ Make sure mats are in trunk

_____ Check to see that personal items are placed in clear plastic bag

_____ Check for plastic drivers seat cover

_____ Check for paper mats

_____ Be sure a hand-out flyer has been placed in car

——–

If a professional detailer will simply look past customer perception that “a detail is a detail” and educate them on the differences, then that professional will get the best of all worlds. By letting car washes introduce the idea and market to the consumers of the world, you will get free advertising. By car washes using the term detailing, even if it is out of context and even if they lower the once high standards in the minds of consumers, they still have opened the market ten fold. Now that this market is wide open and almost everyone has become in their own minds a detailing customer; it is up to the professional detailers to show them ‘a real detail’. It is up to us to expand our retail market mix, to expand that percentage of our business’ total sales.

Once the customer experiences the difference, they will see our point and know that an ‘express detail’ is merely a glorified wash with a hand wax, some extra dressings, and perhaps some carpet cleaning thrown in for good measure. It is hardly what professional detailers call a ‘complete and full detail’. Once your customer has become accustomed to a real detail and received a service which has exceeded their wildest expectations, that person will be a walking, talking one-person sales army for you and every other professional detailer in our industry. So press on! Let’s make believer out of our retail clientele one customer at a time.