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Thanks for your last contribution to the seminar. I've been thinking it's
time for some looking back and synthsizing. You did a nice job of helping
us see what we've been doing.
GOALS: I appreciate your comment asking after whether we might agree: "that
there is a process of finding meaning and significance in artworks--whether
we do so with a set of directed questions, a group of artworks that
stimulate thoughts via comparisons, or if we simulate or make the artwork
first or midst that's connected to significant ideas. The process may take
various forms and is based on a sound and appropriate purpose--that is to
explore major ideas and concepts about art."
Art educators have not always agreed that "finding meaning and significance
in artworks" is one of the essential goals of art instruction. A belief in
such a goal certainly undergirds my efforts in inquiry-based curriculum
development. I expect there are art teachers for whom this is, at best, a
supplementary goal. A teacher's understanding and assessment of inquiry
learning is likely to be much affected by the goal he or she hopes to
accomplish through inquiry. Seminar discussion that seems to be evidence
of conflicting ideas about what constitutes good inquiry learning, may, in
fact, be evidence of diverse or even incompatible beliefs about the most
important goals of art education.
STUDIO TRANSFER: I think you've identified an excellent potential transfer
point for art teachers who may be experienced in planning engaging studio
instruction, but are less comfortable planning engaging instuction focused
on understanding artworks. You write: "We've been trained and skillful at
providing studio-media related problems for students to wrestle and solve.
Could problems that we present be based on solutions incorporating a theory
of art, an issue in comtemporary art, a critical evaluation, and/or an
artist within a particular time and place?"
As teacher's goals for art education evolve, so will their thinking about
what constitutes effective curriculum and instructional practice. Your
comment (above) about exploiting skills traditionally already in the
repertoire of experienced, studio-oriented art teachers does not challenge
teachers to dive into unfamiliar new territory, nor to abandon their
experience-tested expertise, but instead challenges them to exploit the
latter to encourage creative new ways of achieving the former. A very
helpful suggestion, in my opinion.