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In both their contributions to the discussion, these teachers imply concern
for sequence. Glen writes: "First I believe that you can find words for
things TOO EARLY early. Experiences in art, both in viewing and making, can
be reduced to a discussion thereby killing the awe." Mary and Linda write
"In our experience with elementary students and classroom teachers, the
INITIAL EXPERIENCE of a hands-on activity is what creates the excitement
and the heightened awareness that allows them to identify with artists
across time. It is the intense personal involvement with the problem
solving process while creating art that internalizes for them the power of
art, personally and historically. At this point, questions that they
personally wrestled with during the production can be generalized to
artists across time, and their buy-in and excitement in exploring answers
to those questions is more vital. It is here that an experienced teacher
can also introduce additional questions to carry them to new areas they may
not have considered."
The sequence of core lessons in "Our Place in the World" certainly does
"find words for things" from the very outset by introducing the theme in
relationship to the students' own lives and interests. However, the
sequence has been designed to REVERSE THE USUAL SEQUENCE of presenting art
works as a motivation or examples for art making activities. Instead the
recommended sequence of core lessons involve students FIRST with art making
and LATER with art history, for many of the reasons Mary and Linda so
eloquently outline above.
I believe that art learning can be achieved with the aid of many different
sequences of lessons. The sequence outlined in "Our Place in the World"
moves through these steps: 1) theme introduction, 2) drawing based on
imaginative fiction which illustrates the theme, 3) hands on collage which
relates the theme to students' lives, 4) major art making with reflection
focused on inquiry questions, and 5) inquiry into key artworks. A teacher
choosing to be guided more by inquiry than by the theme might begin by
introducing an inquiry question and then move either to a related art
making activity or to an art history activity.
As Glen, Mary and Linda point out, what happens first matters. What
principles or rules of thumb have you found or developed through your
experience that have helped you determine the sequence of activities and
lessons in your curriculum? Can thoughtfully planned sequence play a role
in avoiding the kind of "formulaic" inquiry approach that Glen cautions
against? I would like to join Glen when he writes that he is "most
anxious to see what this seminar is going to produce."