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Lesson Plans

Re: Curriculum Issues

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Fri, 04 Apr 1997 18:38:30 -0700

Dr Sam Short wrote:
> I would like to respond to gwo944 re: Our Place In The World
> and Inquiry Learning.
> Having taught in the public schools for 20+ years, I have great respect for
> what Glen had to say about formulistic approaches to art viewing and art
> making which tend to limit rather than expand students' thinking. Few
> educators would disagree.
> However, I would like to ask a question about the idea of "killing the awe"
> with discussion and that sometimes it is better "to point and keep quiet."
> I think I understand what student "awe" (minus discussion) is (maybe not).
> My high school printmaking students, for instance, were always filled with
> awe when they looked at Durer's etchings. Having experimented with etching
> themselves, they were flabbergasted at the detail and size. I didn't have
> to say a word. They thought Durer was "awesome."
> But students did not always have the same experience with other artworks.
> The works of Dekooning and Warhol come to mind as does the Parthenon or
> other architectural sites partially (or completely) in ruins. These were
> often greeted by "that is stupid" or "my little sister could do that" or
> "why do we have to learn about THIS?" Each time, the students' awe and
> understanding increased only AFTER discussion because they needed the
> background (contextual information) to help them make sense of the images.
> The Parthenon, for instance, just looked like a building in disrepair with
> a bunch of columns around it until they understood the time period, lack of
> modern tools, mathematical precision, and complexity of the structure.
> Based upon these experiences, I would say that whether discussion is a part
> of art viewing/making may depend upon students' prior knowledge. Without
> prior knowledge, teacher/student inquiry, or discussion about art objects,
> "awe" frequently is missing.
As have you all, I have at first sight encountered a work of art and had
that "feeling" which it is difficult to speak about. I also have become
awe struck when in a discussion with artist, docents or visitors,
someone asks a question or makes a comment that allows me to see the
work in a different light. This does not happen everyday, but this is
what draws me back to view, study, and learn more. I know the inquiry
method results in a animated and satisfying tour. It puts visitors and
docents in a more open frame of mind that is conducive to discovery.
Mary Erickson worked with us for a short time illustrating this
approach. It resulted in a great discussion that we hated to end. I'm
sure too that this could be done in a formula kind of way that would be
horrible. I guess that"s what makes good teachers so valuable. I think
the secret to sometimes receiving that sense of awe is to look and look
and then SEE the work. I'm sure that's what happened with the Durer
prints. Their experiences and the information they learned allowed them
to SEE what others sometimes do not. Keep up the good work.