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Lesson Plans


a&e.o-homelessness lesson plan in short (long version)

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Onevans
Mon, 1 Dec 1997 21:38:50 -0500 (EST)

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Hello, Andrea here from osu. I would like to start by thanking all of the
people who have responded to my lesson plan on homelessness as an issue in
contemporary art. A lot of people submitted interesting and helpful ideas on
the process of pin-hole photography. For anyone who didn’t take down that
info., its all available on the Internet, just do a search for pin-hole
photography on Yahoo. Fran Marz seemed particularly interested in the
lesson, so Fran, (or anyone)if you would like to contact me directly I would
be happy to share more information with you.(onevans). In addition
to the positive interest and feedback, there has also been some criticism
specifically concerning language usage. I appreciate both sides of the
argument over whether or not the word "litter" was appropriate in describing
the situation. I strongly agree that it is important to consider the
influence of instructors, and the responsibility to avoid language which
perpetuates negative stereotypes. However, the function of my terminology
was to provoke interest, and was targeted toward those reading artsednet,
not homeless or impoverished people, or students who haven’t yet developed
the capacity for metaphoric reference. As the days have passed since I first
submitted this brief description of a hypothetical lesson plan, I have
followed the ongoing debate over who said what to whom and why it was
inappropriate or misleading or dismissive, or whatever. I strongly feel that
my original point was sadly overlooked. Perhaps I should have merely asked
the question "Is homelessness as it is reflected, documented, revealed,
addressed, and transformed by art a subject which should be discussed
(taught) in the classroom (k-12)?"
At this point I am frustrated, and offended by the nit picking and critical
evaluation which has been offered as response to my ideas. The insulting
remark: "Can we imagine a high school student with an empty Quaker oats box
descending on a homeless shelter to shoot photos of "the homeless…or will
they take a bus ride to the Urban area and spend a few hours shooting photos"
reveals that the author of this belittling statement did not understand the
studio project as it was proposed. The coffee cans and oat boxes are the
cameras, and should be referred to as such, further more the lesson states
that "students would transform these containers into art…that reflect their
ideas of homelessness". Understandably, the lesson was "vague", it was
intended as a brief account of the activities in an effort to generate
positive suggestions and ideas. At no time did I mention that a part of the
lesson was to have students "descend upon homeless shelters, or Urban
environments ( assuming this is where homeless people all collect). At no
point did I suggest that students would be photographing homeless
individuals, and I resent that I have been accused of potentially
objectifying, or reifying them as an exotic "other". For almost two years I
was a volunteer and staff member at a homeless shelter for families in
Cincinnati, Ohio. I have been directly involved in supporting, comforting,
feeding, baby sitting(children as well as adults) people, no different than
us, who desperately need help from those who have it to give. So I would
appreciate some respect as a committed and informed activist not some naďve,
insensitive opportunist who thinks taking pictures of people at their worst
would make a nice art project.
In an effort to help develop an understanding of this social problem, I have
proposed that we as educators, artists, and members of this society use our
talents in encouraging the talents of those we teach. I do not propose any
solutions in this inquiry buy rather a continued exploration of the many
levels on which art functions and touches our lives(past present and future).
In closing, I would very much like to end this "healthy critique" and
perhaps open the discussion up to anyone who has taught, or would like to
teach a lesson on this topic.
p.s. please don't run the whole lesson plan and all the comments again!

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