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Re: [teacherartexchange] Setting up a classroom


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Aug 09 2007 - 17:11:10 PDT

jjennifer west wrote:

>. . . Apparently many of my soon to be students
>are quite fond of breaking everything and anything and
>are very creative in how they do so. Obviously this
>is an issue to be addressed on a larger level, but
>because of this, I am unsure of the type of furniture
>I should purchase. Is a steel table better than wood,
>or laminate? Should I buy stools or plastic molded
>chairs? . . .

This response is not exactly what you are asking for, but it may provide some ideas and principles to consider in making the choices.

E. Paul Torrance tells a story of a school vandal that was privately taken aside and given the responsibility of protecting school property. He says this student turned into a defender of the school and the vandalism problems were solved. I believe that when we design everything to be indestructible and damage proof, we cannot hope to teach the values of caring, of aesthetics, and of beauty.

If for budget reasons, we select laminates, I believe it is more honest for them to be beautifully designed plastic that looks like plastic. This could include patterns and solid colors that are designed by good designers. To me, it is worse if plastic laminates look like wood, stone, or tile because they tend to foster pretence and visual dishonesty in the environment. Fake wood tables and vinyl sided houses are very unpleasant to me because they try to be what they are not. In my opinion there is enough fakery, pretence, and dishonesty in the our visual worlds and the art room should avoid it when we have the option to make a choice. To be dishonest in finance or in a resume is illegal. In relationships it is toxic. I think dishonesty is also toxic in our visual environments? I like working or eating at a table that shows the marks of previous users, so long as these marks are not the result of intentional damage or vandalism. All this previous wear and tear general
 ly adds character. Plastic looks best to me if it is handled by a good designer that does not copy other materials.

Most public school lunch rooms have the design, acoustics, and furnishings to provide the ambiance of factory farms for animal feeding rather than places for civil discourse and having a pleasant meal with friends. I see many art rooms that are better. They strive to make a better statement about ourselves. At least we can have some nice pottery and other artwork in our environment. Those of us with gardens can have fresh flowers in an original vase on our desks in September---because we care about such things. It is part of what we teach.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171??
"Art is me when I am myself." ... a kindergarten girl when asked, "What is art?"
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.

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