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Lesson Plans

Re: Curriculum Issues: Inquiry

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Teresa Tipton (
Sat, 12 Apr 1997 10:50:55 -0700 (PDT)

Thank-you for this post - it brings the abstract idealism of intellectual
constructs into the realm of day-to-day imperfection. Sounds like some
"coalition building" is necessary before launching into an abstract
lesson. Having worked with inner-city kids, I would start with images and
artists that were important to them on a day-to-day basis - rap singers,
cd covers, t-shirt designs and start there. Forget the art history except
as it ties in to these things - showing how different artists used the
same motifs; drawing relationships between form and content to other art
principles; bring in Picasso as an innovator in relationship to some
popular icon who was innovative and pushed the boundaries.

You could bring in different artists' renditions of martin luther king and
compare them in terms of style, form, media, impression then launch into
portraits by other aritsts, for example. I've found that if you expect
less, that's exactly what you get. The teacher needs to find a way to
reach into the day-to-day reality of these students and begin there.Hav
everyone bring in a magazine they read or look at. Have the girls bring in
their cosmetics and look at the advertising images for the brands etc.

Art needs to relate before it can elevate.

Teresa Tipton

On Sat, 12 Apr 1997, Dr Sam Short wrote:

> 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
> origin.
> 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
> begin?
> Sam Short