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Lesson Plans

Curriculum Issues: Student "art"

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Mary Erickson (MARY.ERICKSON)
Tue, 15 Apr 1997 20:33:47 -0700

Rosa writes:

"I have a question. When we talk about: "that there is a process of finding
meaning and significance in artworks--" are we talking about students' art
works as well as those of artists (actually I believe my students are

I was quoting Marilyn Schanake, who may want to answer your question in her
own way. In my message I was referring to whatever artwork the artworld of
the culture would recognize as art. In the West there is not complete
agreement on whether the work of students (children, or even perhaps adults
when acting as students) is art. Back in the 70s Arthur Efland wrote
pretty convincingly about something he called "the school art style." If I
recall correctly he distinguished school art from both adult art and
untutored work by children. I believe Margaret DiBlasio has also written
about distinctions between what children do and that which the traditional
Western artworld recognizes as art.

It seems to me that the question you ask is an issue in aesthetics. If any
aestheticians are listening, maybe you'd like to add some perspective. In
fact, "Our Place in the World" suggests the following question as an issue
a teacher might want to take up with students in conjunction with the main
art making lesson of the core unit: "Is school art (like your Membership
Flag or Portrait) real art?"

Pegagogically, I believe that the work that students do has great transfer
potential. Their making experiences provide an invaluable prior knowledge
base upon which they can draw as they reflect on their definition of art,
on the meaning and significance of artworks of their own or other cultures,
as well as on their own continuing making experiences.

The same can be said of art history. In "Our Place in the World" I've
tried to plan activities in which students take on some of the same issues
as art historians do as they reflect on their own work, on their own visual
environment, and on recognized artworks from various ages and cultures. I
don't know whether art history scholars would call the students' efforts
art history, nonetheless the experience has great transfer value.