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Lesson Plans

Curriculum Issues

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Glen Williams (gw1944)
Thu, 3 Apr 1997 19:08:15 -0600

Fellow Art Teachers:
In reading Dr. Erickson's summary and references to the nature of
Inquiry Based Learning I am both stimulated and upset.
I applaud the process which attempts to find words for visceral
responses to the world as well as questions which can lead to the
apprehension of concepts. As with Xeno's Paradox however, it is arrival
that frightens me especially in the world of art education. Lord knows
that creating a curriculum that values the connective tissue amongst the
arts as well as the other disciplines is our best promise for successful
teaching and survival in public education. Too often art courses and art
history courses too, are a formulaic approach or project which begins and
ends with a recipe. And the cake and the answer pop out of the oven. So
many questions are closed sets and have built in answers- and the
paradoxes that go with them.
I am offering more cheer than cynicism, but systematic inquiry can
make an audience out of a class. This approach seems a near cousin to the
Socratic approach, and that is more often a weapon than a tool.
I am being more negative than I feel. Many of the questions seem to have
the intent of the student exploring his/her own reactions, comparing them
with others, helping them to find other information from other sources
and understanding that some questions may not have answers. This part seems
wonderful. So I realize that my reservations spring from two sources.First
I believe that you can find words for things too early. Experiences in
art, both in viewing and making, can be reduced to a discussion thereby
killing the awe. Sometimes it is better to point and keep quiet. Second.
Words are not the thing itself. They are a layer of abstraction that
enable us to sometimes hold something precious for a while. T.S. Elliot
said it best : that he found words for things which he no longer needed to
I am most anxious to see what this seminar is going to produce.I am
willing to be persuaded that this approach is not a conspiracy to replace
a process with a product.
Glen Williams