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[teacherartexchange] teaching math in art class...long post

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From: Bunki Kramer (bkramer_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Aug 20 2005 - 12:32:23 PDT


> I think one of the approaches might be to say that the arts reinforce math
> skills, and show how math is used in the art studio.
> San D
> The question is how does art impact math scores?
> Pam
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Hi. I've been sitting back reading about your thoughts on art and math
connections to see what others have surmised. Interesting...and I agree with
no proven data to suggest improved scores.

I am a middle school art teacher with an art education degree. I also
obtained my math certification and teach 6th grade math. In the
past...before downsizing when I used to teach art fulltime...I taught an Art
n' Math class to 7/8th graders as a semester course for 5 years. This class
was honored with awards by the county as "Outstanding".

I also taught art and math as professional growth classes to teachers for
several years...mostly math teachers and elementary teachers. I'm really not
trying to toot my horn but want to suggest to you that I know what I'm
talking about.

I've been in the trenches with these subject connections so I know
firsthand...not what some "data" might suggest...what happens with kids when
the two subjects are intertwined.

If I were to put it into a nutshell...kids may know a little math but they
can't apply it to something concrete. They might know times tables up the
wazoo but they don't see patterns. They might see a pattern in a circle grid
but not know how to put it into an algebraic expression. They may know how
to make a string design but not know how it relates to calculus and the
"curve of pursuit". They might be able to make a geometric quilt or
car-wheel pattern but they don't know how to find the percentage of a
certain color or what kind of rotation it makes or the degree of rotation.

To test all this is almost impossible because it's difficult at best to
"test" correlations and most tests don't test applications (at least the
state and national math testing)..they test math facts. If they really
tested applications of math, then I'd be having a whole other conversation
here.

Wouldn't it be a novel idea (I'm being sarcastic here...grin) to teach it
"backwards"? To teach art with the outcome being math?!...and no tests? Just
completion of an art project? The PROCESS is slow...very slow...but the idea
of "getting it" is so rewarding and USEFUL. Of course there are some who
never seem to grasp it...and I'm talking here mostly about the teachers I've
taught. Kids get it waaay faster.

On the other hand...I have had math teachers say it was wonderful but they
didn't have TIME to go into it or that their parents were complaining that
all they did in math was "art". Being a math teacher I also understand these
problems plus each year the curriculum is getting more difficult with more
areas covered. Gosh...ten years ago I never had to teach what I teach now.
It's grueling to try to finish the year in 6th grade math.

In my mind there will never be data that will conclusively tell us that
teaching math in art class will improve scores but I can tell you for a fact
that the testing we do nowadays will never "test" applying your math
knowledge which is what it's ALL about. Other countries know that...why
don't we?

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