Saturday's Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Tami Rae Weiss
"Beads and Breakdancing:
Understanding Empathy Through the Arts"
In a multimedia presentation, Dr. Tami Rae Weiss shares various arts strategies from dancing to doodling through which teachers can cultivate empathy with even the youngest of learners. Specifically, Weiss emphasizes an untaught literacy in schools which is of most importance: aesthetic literacy, which she describes as the ability to read human emotion.
Dr. Weiss’s advice for improving schools today includes, “Focus less on right answers and more on human rights. Focus less on competition and more on community. Focus less on reading words and more on reading people.” “True education,” according to Weiss, “is the ability to understand another human being.”
To teach empathy, Dr. Weiss uses the analogy of “beads and threads” to illustrate that the lessons in a teacher’s curriculum are “beads” designed around specific content objectives, while the “threads” lead toward deeper understandings that may connect and transfer into life outside of school. Regardless of the “beads’” subject, the enduring “thread” can be that of empathic understanding.
Dr. Tami Weiss has collaborated with Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary) and Eva Schloss (Holocaust survivor and step-sister to Anne Frank) to promote the arts as essential to personal well-being and cultural change. As Executive Director of Arts Integration Menomonie and Program Director for Art Education at UW-Stout, Weiss works with teachers to integrate the arts as a means of enhancing their competence, confidence, and happiness.