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OK - Let's brainstorm on HOW WE DO THIS (long)


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Aug 17 2003 - 11:20:06 PDT

Yes, lets brainstorm!
The "what the arts do" that Judy quoted are all true but I've seen far
too many art rooms that are too rigid, too uncreative, and too intolerant.
(and remember those of us on this list are here because we want to be better
informed teachers, but there are a lot out there that don't even want to
think about this kind of exchange.)

BTW if you delve a little deeper into the facts presented by
you'll find that there is not a lot of hard evidence. One thing missing
from that list is that the students who do well also have a strong exposure
to the arts at home. The 1997 NAEP Report on the Arts is less than
glowing. Fewer than 30% of students tested were proficient.
Sometimes I think we spend too much time tooting an art education horn
instead of creatively solving the problem and there is a problem.

I think we have to think differently. I think we have to embrace the other
arts instead of fighting over time allocations. Remember that the National
Standards for Art include Music, Dance and Theater as well as Visual. I
think we have to learn to let go of some of what we hold so precious and
learn to cooperate and extend to finding ways kids can value from all the
arts disciplines. I think we also have to find ways to draw in the students
who traditionally will not choose art. That, I think is done through
creating more multi-media avenues for expression. Computers, video,
performance... whatever. A quarter of my advanced class this year will be
kids with little art experience, but they want to be in the class because
that's where the computers are. Hopefully I can soon build enough interest
that a separate class can be created.

I've said this many times before, but I think we can reach many more kids if
we are a bit more open minded about how observation can be accomplished. I
just really believe that the immediacy of the digital can take away a lot of
those "fears" and assumptions kids start making in middle school. Can we not
do a better job of associating art with more than drawing real? Do we have
to start every course with the elements and principles? Can't we sneak
them in other ways? And certainly recognize that current brain research on
cognition is probably going to change some of what we think about how art is
perceived. (see A bold new theory to identify the common denominator of
all visual art If a Martian ethologist were to land on earth and watch us
humans, he would be puzzled by many aspects of human nature, but surely art

I was reading an interesting article in the NY Times today about David Byrne
using Power Point as an art medium
For more than a year David Byrne has been employing the ubiquitous sales and
presentation program PowerPoint as an art medium. E.E.E.I (Envisioning
Emotional Epistemological Information) is a book of images and essays, plus
a DVD which plays 5 of his PowerPoint presentations accompanied by original
music. The book component contains a dozen new exploratory texts and a whole
lot of bold, graphic images created with the help of PowerPoint's built-in
tools and visuals--not to mention the fun of plastic overlays and nifty
foldout pages. And you may ask yourself, what is the meaning of this? And
you may ask yourself, what is this about? It is about taking subjective,
even emotional, information and presenting it in a familiar audiovisual
form--using a medium in a way that is different, and possibly better, than
what was intended. It is about appropriating a contemporary, corporate
staple and making something critical, beautiful and humorous with it.
And I'm thinking what if?

Kids want to do work that they find meaning and relevance in. They are going
to choose an easier route if we don't give them a reason for being in the
art room. We have to recognize that need to make choices. I think Judy's
Heroes lesson is a wonderful example of how kids can be engaged in an
exploration that connects, where their choice of subject is important, it's
non-threatening, it has skill and organization and look at how many ways the
objective can be accomplished.

I teach high school. I have a percentage of kids that are going on to art
school and I meet the needs to get into those schools. But I also have many
more kids that are not going to be "artists" but they want the experience
of expression through the arts and I do my best to find and provide places
of expression whatever the form.

Find ways to collaborate with the other arts
learn something new and pass it on
let go of what you think is precious
look a little closer at what is happening in Contemporary art
accept the so called "low art" as important as the "high art"

We are on a long road to keeping our programs
and I think we are a little snotty about what we do. Doesn't every
discipline try to provide the same -promote individuality, bolster
self-confidence, and improve overall
academic performance.