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Lesson Plans

Re: question

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henry (taylorh)
Tue, 12 Aug 1997 17:26:22 -0700 (MST)

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On Tue, 12 Aug 1997 RWilk85411 wrote:

> In your opinion should art teachers be practicing artists? Yes or no?

If I were to answer this question in general terms I'd say that truly
important place to ask the question is in the community where art will be
taught. Ask the students ask the parents. If you have to ask the
administration, the question is already moot. I don't believe that there
is a "one-size-fits-all" answer to such a question.

If I am to answer this question in terms of myself or my own children I'd
have to say yes, art teachers should be practicing artists. Why? Because
if I want to learn a thing or have a child of mine learn a thing then I
want to turn only to someone who actually does that thing, and does it as
a primary activity not a hobby. It doesn't really matter to me whether we
speak of art, or art history, or world history, or driving a car, or
astronomy, or medicine. I want to learn the thing from someone who does
the thing, not someone who just knows "about it". (Unless, of course, I
don't think the thing is important enough and believe that "knowing
about", whatever it is, will suffice)

There is, for me, a big difference between knowing about a thing and
understanding a thing well enough to practice it competently at some
level. An artist who knows art and its history understands something
different that the historian who knows about the history of art. What the
artist is most competent in is the practice of art, what the historian is
most competent in is the practice of history, (or, for that matter, the
aesthetician, competent in the practices of philosophy or the critic,
competent in the practices of criticism).

As I would turn to a scientist to learn science rather than a science
writer or a historian of science; I turn to the artist to learn art.
Sometimes, however, I want or need to learn history; then the art
historian is of the utmost importance. Today, a lot of artists know
altogether to little of the history of their craft. I don't want anyone to
think that I believe art historians ought to be dismissed out of hand.

Ultimately, I suppose, for me, it winds down to the question of what I
really want to learn most and how I want to relate things to the rest of
my world and culture. Art is the central element for me, because for me it
is central to my connection to my culture and community. What I learn I
learn so as to extend my artistic vision and practice. I find that art is
an excellent entre to just about everything and that by focusing primarily
on art I gain better balance and composition in my life. Everything I
never learned in school (and that was quite a bit) I've learned through
art, practicing art; mathematics, chemistry, history, culture, literature,

Before I set out to become an artist, all I had were a set of unrelated

So much for this unsolicted testimonial to art and its practice! Hope i
haven't been too much of a bore?


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