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The art classes are not participating in our thematic unit. It would be way
cool if they could, but since coordinating schedules so that all art students
in a particular class would be concurrently enrolled in Eng III and U.S.
History, their participation is not feasible. I could envision a school-wide
theme that all classes would attempt to connect with, but right now I don't
think we have the administrative support we need to undertake such a program.
The Art Dept. is participating (i.e., teachers) by helping us unschooled
English and U.S. History teachers teach art crit, history, production, and
aesthetics. Right now, the art to which we refer our students is limited by
the art with which we are familiar. Of the artists you suggested we include,
I know Benton and Wright, so thank you for the suggestions. By next year, I
will have researched the others.
I think the best themes are interdisciplinary, but that doesn't mean that to
teach thematically a teacher must gain the cooperation of other teachers
(though optimal success would count on that) since the best classes are
interdisciplinary even though the titles of those classes are limited to one
discipline. I can't expect my students to make the best possible connection
with The Grapes of Wrath without understanding the Great Depression, the Dust
Bowl, or the history of migrant labor in the U.S. Understanding those things
requires exposure to art works such as Migrant Mother, some Benton, and some
WPA works. Perhaps Rivera's mural Detroit Industry and some thoughts on the
American Dream? I haven't even scratched the surface.