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Lesson Plans

Homelessness : Making art, reclaiming lives

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David Zimmerman (fastedy)
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 12:56:03 -1000

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I've been enjoying your thoughtful comments on this list, however this last
missive went a bit over my head. Is there a way you can communicate a bit
more effectly by eliminating some of that esoteric verbage? Even with my
dictionary close at hand, I was hard pressed to understand your comments
about critiques.

I do agree that some lessons designed to make students "aware" of specific
social inequities and ills can be pompous and exploitative of the very
groups they try to illuminate; or, they can perpetrate stereotypes.
Students should never engage in work which could hurt or further stereotype
individuals or groups.

But I wonder, how much can an art lesson really be expected to do? Perhaps
those students who view homelessness through their little pin hole cameras
(ALWAYS with the permission of the subject!!) will be so moved to begin
volunteer work at a soup kitchen or to donate food to a local food bank.
Who could possibly focus their attention through a camera and not be forced
to "see"? We have so little time as educators (especially art teachers
who may see their students only once a week) to impact their lives and open
their minds. Often "exposure" to an issue is all we can accomplish in the
time allotted.
If I can teach my students to "see" instead of just "looking", I consider
it success.

I think its possible to get very caught up in all the rhetoric when we look
at all these underlying themes and issues with art making. As a mature
artist with a degree in art history, I find this all fascinating, but I
have a different bottom line when planning lessons for my students. I have
to ask myself what the most important thing I can give them in the time I
have available.

Deb Rosenbaum

The Surgeon's Motto: "Never say 'oops!', always say 'there!'

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