That is an interesting point, Donna, and one that I think that we, as
teachers of creative expression deal with every day. (In fact, I was
having this exact discussion with the Creative Writing teacher after a
student wrote a really shocking short story, and had no clue why it
wouldn't be school-appropriate.) How do we encourage expression in
an era where anything goes in the media, and still do it in a way that
encourages restraint and moral judgement? It's a tricky tightrope to
walk. If we are too strict, we deny students their opportunity to
express what's important to them (which in and of itself is an
exercise in judgement, and a great opportunity to teach about that.)
If we are too liberal, not only can we get ourselves in trouble but we
miss those opportunities to engage students in selective thought.
I've found that when a student is hellbent on expressing something
that I find inappropriate in class, that's a really good opportunity
to talk about symbolism and abstraction. Instead of making it
censorship, I try to help them find another way to express it than
realism. If they want to express violent anger, for instance, we talk
about symbols for that. What colors show violence? What types of
strokes? What can be shown other than the obvious (because, really,
if it's that obvious, chances are that it's been done before and will
look really amateurish and cheap.)
Usually, the students respond really well and I am able to satisfy
both my students' need to express things that they feel very strongly
about right now, and my need to keep from getting in trouble, with the
added bonus of teaching them to dig a little deeper and create art
that goes beyond shock value and causes people to think and feel
something about the subject matter. They get out of the situation
feeling like they're getting away with something by not having to
change the subject matter, and the end result is usually something
mind-blowingly thought-provoking... minus the cheap shock value.
On Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 7:46 AM, Donna Pumphrey <> wrote:
> This even fits in to elementary school now days. I serve two schools in a rural community where hunting is still a part of every day culture. In todays politically correct age, I do not allow them to even draw hunting or guns.
> With teachers being scrutinized for even taking children to an art gallery with the possiblity of them passing what someone might deem "offensive nudes", most of us feel we can't take chances with our job. And yet, visual and verbal images stream at children and adolescents through T.V., radio, and internet that most parents allow in their homes. It is indded a thin line and a fuzzy one.
> I do encourage them to express themselves and their feelings through artwork, but if it is not "School appropriate" they must do so at home, not in the classroom.
> Times are different now, and although some of the aggression, rebellion, and shock value that some adolescents express is normal, one must be careful in how that comes across and how that is displayed in art and culture. Even more alarming and interesting is the current practice of googling someones name who is trying to get a job to see what kind of things are out there about them. One needs to be careful of what one posts artistically as a child or adolescent as this may be seen by future employers and questioned.
> Although I am for a kinder gentler culutre I sometimes wonder what the impact of not letting children/adolescents/adults access to less harmful ways of venting angst might be. If it is pent up will it come out all at once? If we have a double standard of not allowing artwork that is considered provactive in culture, and yet allowing almost obscene images to appear daily on our T.V. programs, how will young adolescents self image be affected?
> Interesting times to teach in and be a part of.
> Donna Pumphrey
> Harmony/Union Grove
> + I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way--things I had no words for.-Georgia O'Keefe
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