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Lesson Plans

Curriculum Issues: Inquiry

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Dr Sam Short (short.4)
Sat, 12 Apr 1997 12:45:11 -0400

I have been giving some thought to the inquiry process as it relates to
inner city secondary school students. I visit inner city art classrooms on
a regular basis. Although there are some very fine inner city schools with
excellent art programs, I have also observed other situations where art
teachers are frustrated, many "burned out," lesson content is
oversimplified, and student interest in art (and learning generally) is
low. In these classes, only a few students are "on task." The majority
sleep, discuss personal matters among themselves (ignoring the teacher),
others are openly uncooperative or belligerent when asked to participate in
the lesson.

How would students such as these react to, say, the Picasso lesson as
described by Eldon Katter? How would they respond to thematic instruction
based upon "Our Place In The World?"

With little apparent motivation to learn, it is difficult to imagine these
students in a meaningful engagement with the images of Picasso. The
problem does not seem to be with Picasso per se. I have witnessed
students' lack of interest in artworks, irrespective of their cultural

It seems to me that a thematic unit based upon "Our Place In The World"
offers greater possibilities - many students seem to grapple internally
with this issue during their high school years.

But how to begin? If the art teacher desires meaningful in-depth responses
from students, s/he may need more than a well-constructed series of
questions. Meaningful inquiry, it seems to me, also requires a level of
trust. If students do not feel free to fail and have no interest in
scholastic achievement, can the inquiry approach to learning succeed?

In sum, must certain classroom conditions be in place for the inquiry
approach to benefit learners? Further, how can inner city teachers who
have "given up" be persuaded to try the inquiry process and how should they

Sam Short