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Lesson Plans

Re: Take 5--Art and Mathematics - long long long

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Sun, 11 Apr 1999 11:11:31 EDT

"As a former would-be academic, I hesitate to take Eisner's statements on
Education through Art seriously.
For example, how would Mr. Eisner teach . . .
. . . line, shape, form, symmetry/asymmetry without teaching at
least some rudimentary geometry?
. . . Color theory without science?
. . . Art history without discussing cultural, political,
intellectual history. (ie. Impressionism makes more sense to students when
placed within the context of the invention of the camera and paint in tubes)."

That is exactly the point Mr. Eisner is trying to make. The academics are
already a part of Art. I like to tell my kids that in many instances Art is
applied Physics. what Eisner is trying to say is that we should not justify
our existence by teaching the other subjects in Art class but rather by
showing how they come alive in our classes. Whenever I teach ceramics, I
always talk about the clay in terms of geology, the chemistry of the glazes,
the physics of the kiln and firing process. To me that is integration. As a
matter of fact, I constantly pressure them to take physics not only because
it will help them so much in Art but also because I consider Physics a
survival science. We also discuss the history of the process, as well as the
process, also how to critically evaluate the forms, and hold philosophical
discussions on trends over the years as well as explore possible innovative
trends on the part of the students.

I cannot imagine discussing the Impressionists without discussing the
invention of the camera or paint in tubes. That is Art information as far as
I am concerned.

When the art teacher has her class make dinosaurs when the "regular" class is
studying that period in history, it is fine to make dinosaurs with the Art
class as long as design, theory, process, technique, art history, and art
criticism are what is actually being taught. But frequently we read posts on
this list that read as if the Art teacher is just making dinosaurs to support
the other teacher's curriculum without teaching Art and calling it
integration. I like to think that they just don't mention that part taking it
for granted that we are taking it for granted that Art was taught.

"I think the point of Education through Art is to engage kids in a more
dynamic form of learning. Perhaps that places art on a level that is
"secondary" to "academic" subjects like English; however, we must ask
ourselves whether DBAE has significantly enhanced the status of art in our
public schools. "

I cannot comprehend how understanding that studying Art engages students in a
more dynamic form of learning could possibly place Art in a secondary
position to any other subject. And I fail to comprehend your connection
between this and DBAE. Are you saying that only when Art is taught in a DBAE
manner that it is dynamic learning? Well, actually, when DBAE is utilized
properly and in the manner that the founders of the theory intended, Art is
truly a dynamic form of learning. It means that Art students do not study
process in a vacuum. It means that they get the information on the invention
of the camera and paint in tubes, the color theory, the design theory, the
process of production as well as the opportunity to critically analyze their
own work, and to discuss what they are doing philosophically. Perhaps these
people who are losing their jobs or space are the victims of
misinterpretation of DBAE and/or Art class being nothing more than an
activity class or "inside recess." I am not saying that the DBAE format must
be adhered to to provide dynamic learning in the Art class. I am saying that
if Art is being taught dynamically and for in depth art learning, then the
method of the teacher is going to be pretty close to that of the DBAE method.
So DBAE is not the criminal but the victim. The scapegoat.

"If I understand the 'learned scholar" Mr. Eisner, here, I am hearing him say
that art education needs to exist for its own sake. Well, I beg to differ.
When ANY subject exists for its own sake it becomes vapid and uninspiring.
The specialization route is EXACTLY what so many English, Math, Science, and
History teachers are doing WRONG.

It frustrates me when social Studies teachers teach about ancient Greece and
fail to even discuss the basics of Greek art.

I hated history in high school because I didn't give a damn about dates and
who fought what wars and who was in power. That's not all there is to

Mr. Eisner, a truly learned scholar, is not saying that Art should be taught
without the mention of these other subjects. You're exactly right. That is
precisely what many English, History, etc., teachers are doing wrong. However
there are many teachers of these subjects who understand that what they teach
is only one piece of the puzzle and that they must show the connection. Art
is one of the major connectors. However, that does not mean that we should
start teaching those subjects in our room, but that we should also show the
connections. And that is what Eisner is saying. Teach Art. Do not make
dinosaurs for the History teacher to display in his/her classroom. True
integration would be the History teacher and the Art teacher designing a unit
of study in which the students learn about the time period in terms of
social/chronological history and art history, discuss the period in
philosophical and scientific terms and create a related art form while
learning the related design, process, technique, etc., information. This
kind of integration is difficult at the secondary level simply because my art
students do not all have the same history class let alone the same teacher.
However, it can be done in a modified form, if there are "academic" teachers
who are not threatened by the concept.

I am fortunate where I teach in that many of the science teachers are totally
aware of the connection between art and the sciences and without any effort
on my part just naturally incorporate art information into their lessons. In
fact I have a "lab" that I do when introducing color courtesy of these
science teachers. Not because I am trying to teach physics in my art class
but because I am trying to give one more piece of evidence that black is the
presence of all colors. And it is a little bit different twist and gets their
attention. They appreciate that I push the study of science as a foundation
for study in art and I appreciate what they do. Our plan is to get together
and identify more ways that they can tie art in and vice versa. Sometimes my
Physics is a little rusty. :-))

But one thing that we have to remember when maligning the "academic" teachers
for not making the connections more often, is that we have taken all of their
subjects. Frequently they have had little or no art. It is difficult for them
even when they are willing.

Eisner is not saying to teach art in a vacuum. He is just saying art should
be studied because it is important to know art. Making the connections is
important, in fact impossible to avoid, given the nature of art.

Boy talk about having a lot to say!