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Student's character and coloring skills


From: Ellen Silverman (mcguffsilver_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Dec 07 2003 - 06:08:41 PST

    I have been following this strand about students character and lack
of skills and now I am going to throw in some of my ramblings on the
subjects. I share your frustrations with art students behavior of
rushing through their work, lack of attention, and putting no effort
into their work. I also tempted to start out with any conversation on
the subject with, "haven't they been taught....." The difficulty with
this comment is that I teach k-8 and I have been teaching some of these
little darlings throughout their public education career.

    I am left with two possibilities one I am the "happy hands" type art
teacher, although I could have swore I taught a good well balanced art
program. I remember teaching proper technique and care of a wide
variety of material, some art history and how to evaluate one own work
as well as to appreciate others. I also taught proper behavior in the
classroom and to show respect to the teacher, students and oneself.
There are days when some of my students act in a way that they have not
been exposed to those things, I remember teaching.

    They behave like they have only been exposed to hours of fast
action, and violent TV, music and movies. As if their time has been
carved up into little blocks of time, say 40 minutes and then they jump
from one thing to another. Their heroes appeared to be admired for
their anti social characteristics, their life is lead at high speeds
with loud pulsating noises, to keep out their incomprehesionable
surroundings and they are moving much to fast. My students show classic
signs of being under a lot of stress.

     When they come in the art classroom what I ask them to do and what
you are asking them to do requires them to turn down the noise and slow
down. To learn how to slow down and turn down the noise and find out
what is inside them is one of the most important lesson they should
learn, but it is not easy. I think it may take my whole life time to
learn to do for myself. It is hard to slow them down, there is going to
be sounds of protest, and it will not always work.

    So, somehow we have to be heard through all that noise and teach
them to use their break to slow down. Not once, not twice, but over and
over again, because the brain is like a muscle it must be trained to
know how to do things. We have a hard job. Lets keep sharing ideas how
to break through. Many of our students have been taught art basics a
few times, but they need to be taught over and over again. Oh, and when
they leave our program they will still act like they know nothing about
art, some of the times, but we can't give up on them.

    Well, I have to take my "happy hands" out to shovel some snow, now.

Ellen Silverman
Snowy NJ