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Lesson Plans


re :blaming schools/the system etc...

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Emily L Atkinson (us030446)
Tue, 23 Apr 1996 20:50:46 -0500


"Whole Language" when done right can be a wonderful thing.

My mother's elementary school is having the opposite results with whole
language from those you refer to. She spent some time in New Zealand
(where whole language functions quite well) to get some one-on-one, and
teaches it at the regional level now.

I think perhaps Blind Eugenie is confusing freedom with independent
thinking. Children need to learn to think for themselves - to become who
they are, to be creative, to believe what they believe, based on their own
knowledge and experiences. They especially need to become themselves in
creative classes, be it music, art, drama, dance, or creative writing.
"Freedom" in a classroom is not all it's cracked up to be. As someone
mentioned earlier, freedom = chaos. You should NOT squander a child's
creativity, or demean a child's views, or squash a child's empowerment.
You SHOULD let them try new things, teach them about views and concepts
that they don't necessarily learn about in other classes (culture and
aesthetics, art history and personal expression), and push them to be
themselves - to FORM themselves. As small children, they are only
"half-baked". Any influence you have on them IS going to make a
difference. Let that influence be one of acceptance, free expression, and
self-esteem - both in words and in actions. By the time they get to be
older children, which is what I teach, they have formed many of the
opinions that they will have for the rest of their lives. It is not our
job to change them - but to give them the information they need to change
their own minds, if need be, or to reinforce decisions and ideas that are
(by our standards, obviously) good. [I am referring here mostly to ideas
of acceptance - racial, homosexual, cultural, religious; and of quality -
what is good artwork, what is a complimentary statement to a fellow
student, what is an appropriate relationship,etc.] We can't teach ethics
and morals to our kids in public school, beyond those that are national
laws (regarding drugs, for instance), but we can set examples. And we can
let students be individuals. This does not mean setting them free to run
the class as they like and create educational anarchy, but to leave the
classroom open and caring enough to let them be themselves. THIS is what
students want. Structure within which they can both learn and create,
think and debate. Luckily, I think that this is what most American
children are getting in their art classrooms. Maybe Australia's system is
a little rusty - or maybe Blind Eugenie has a small chip on her shoulder.

Emily Atkinson
PS - I am sorry that I, too, rambled. Hopefully I did so in a
grammatically correct manner!!!

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