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Re:dissent, canned plans, visual culure


Date: Thu Apr 25 2002 - 04:46:46 PDT

Dear everyone,

It think it is wonderful that we are finally discussing Visual Culture and canned
lessons. VC is a very important concept in higher education at the present time
-- I brought up a query about this last summer -- and there were not too many
responses, so it's really interesting that the thoughts about Visual Culture a
year later are really bubbling up in the general art education consciousness.
Students in art education at The School of the Art Institute of chicago must
integrate Visual Culture into their lesson plans along with DBAE

Now for my two cents: Just as Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" --
sometimes art making and art teaching are incredibly simplistic and prosaic...and
sometimes of course, the process and result are unbelievably multi-layered and
profound -- it is the nature of process and the nature of thinking for the simple
and the complex to coexist in the same template. The real issue is getting a
student "on the bus -- over time" -- and in order to do that, one teaches in
myriad ways. I believe that sometimes with some classes DBAE works in a way that
would surprise everyone, but that at other times, the only way to get a group of
sixth graders interested in certain subject matter or media is through visual
culture and at other times one introduces media without much fanfare and gets the
students moving creatively in a studio based format. I have taught art across
the curriculum (integrating writing, movement and social studeis) and I have also
taught what seemed to me to be canned lesson plans. (I am thinking of a group of
kindergartners who created a fish mobile this past week). As experienced
teachers over time we by necessity use a multitude of strategies to teach art and
get art concepts and ideas across which allow students to become skilled in art
making, feel like and become global citizens and active, excited members of a

To me the biggest change I see in art making and art teaching is my own attitude
as a teacher. As long as I believe that art is something all of my students can
do, (even if they are not Da Vinci or Michelangelo or a master potter from San
Eldefonso) I stress that there is a place for them in my classroom and in the
world. I had a very elitist attitude about who could and who could not be an
artist when I was first certified 20 years ago. Teaching in a variety of places
over time, and working with many different populations (some who spoke no
English) I found that I needed to use many different strategies and teaching
styles to get them to work creatively (and also to get them to behave -- i.e. no
gang fights or petty squabbling)...I welcome this discussion and I welcome this
forum with all of you. We need one another as colleagues in the world community
of art professionals.

In order to be competitive and advocate for our programs we need to be able to
discuss every which way we teach with everyone in our school community. I have a
very angry parent at my school who complained to the Superintendent that I wasn't
sending more work home after each art class and that the students were not doing
"canned lessons" she even gave me a book of canned lessons. I am keeping
portfolios and having students do a lot of drawing based projects before they do
3-d work. Hence students are focusing on drawing skills in tandem with critical
thinking; sculpture based projects, crafts and yes DBAE and visual culture. But
trust me, getting some parents aboard on this is a challenge.

Just one last note about dissent -- when I offered a dissenting view last year, I
too was chastised about my spelling by means of a sniping comment! And I'm an
art critic -- and yes my spelling sucks, especially when I'm trying to get an
idea off in a hurry without spellcheck -- but I guess I do wonder why people need
to attack when we really need to support one another and are trying to support
one another even in dissent -- this discussion will be saved and filed and shared
with art Ed students and all sorts of others (as you all know). Do we really
want to appear this petty as others review our discussion subjects? I think this
forum is just that, a forum for discussion -- fascism has no place here -- unless
it's part of say a lesson plan about (you guessed it) Visual Culture and the art
of Mussolini!

Yours in fascism, visual culture,and art,