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Lesson Plans

Re: Art is NOT important

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Mark Alexander (mamjam)
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 00:32:43 -0500

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Dear Sandra,

I don't have an answer for you, and I confess that I've had similar
problems. When I expressed concern that a sixth grader wasn't turning in
sketchbook assignments, her mother told me that "art isn't as important as
some of the other subjects." I decided not to go nuts with my lists of
good reasons for art in school.

Instead I decided to continue the "gorilla marketing" of the art program.
Gorilla marketing is using any inexpensive method possible to promote the
cause. Although it might be good for you to know that SAT scores are
improved by participation in art classes, it isn't going to do much good to
preach that to the parents. I found their eyes tend to glaze over. So I do
whatever I can to get the art program into their conversations at home. If
the art project is discussed at the dinner table, then it tends to become
more important. So I try to be a high profile guy at my school. I put on
and promote a large art show in which every student participates.

I do not ever refer to my program as a "special," instead refering to it as
a program or a class. I invite myself to PPT's. I continue to attend all
the parent-teacher conferences my wife will allow. I assign students to
after school study hall (Club 3:15) to complete overdue work. I continue to
call my newspaper friends whenever the art class is doing something
interesting or unusual.

I make dozens of phone calls to homes soliciting chaperones for field
trips, and on a recent trip had a student to chaperone ratio of five to
one. I give sketchbook assignments which involve the family. A recent one
assigned for the holidays requires a family member to pose for a portrait.

Each marking period I write a one page flyer with a student illustration
which describes what has been going on in art class, and there is a
different one for each grade level, which goes home in each student's work
folder. I also keep the hallway displays current and well labeled with the
concepts being explored.

I get involved in the other disciplines by relating art lessons to those
subject areas, and I ask the other teachers to support the art program in
their classes in a similar manner.

I continue to send glowing mid-term reports whenever possible, and whenever
a good report isn't possible, I preface all bad news with a good comment.

I am also working with my principal and middle school teachers on some
changes to the grading system. My school is like Sandra Poo's, in that they
will not let a child who has failed a special area class such as art, music
or p.e. to be on the honor roll. I am trying to increase this incentive, by
requiring that the art, music, and p.e. grades actually be included in the
grade average which determines earning a position on the honor roll.

I doubt the war will ever be won, but don't give up. Continue to choose
your battles and fight them well.

Have happy holidays, and a fun and fruitful new year.


Mark Alexander, 1-8 Art
Lee H. Kellogg School
47 Main Street
Falls Village, Connecticut 06031

"The object of education is to
prepare the young to
educate themselves
throughout their lives."
Robert Hutch

At 8:13 PM 12/17/97, Sandra Poos wrote:
>I had a little boy in class last week that wasn't doing his assigned
>work and I asked him why. He said his dad didn't care what grade he got
>in art and that art wasn't important anyway. This is the kind of
>attitude I get alot of from kids and parents in my school district.
> Art is just not up there in importance with math, science, english,etc.
>I have sent home letters to parents telling them how art fits into the
>curriculumn and how it is related to the other subjects. I have had art
>shows, displaying the children's art work.
> Some of them still think of art the way they were taught in school, as
>just being free time to color or paint or trace around patterns, with no
>meaning. I have tried to set them straight, and also send the children's
>art work home and have the children explain what they learned by doing
>this project but it is hard teaching an old dog new tricks.
> Do any of you have any more ways of getting through to parents as why
>art IS important to their child??
> My district will not let a child who has failed a special area class
>such as art, music or p.e. on the honor roll. This is an incentive for
>them. Some parents can't understand why these special areas are included
>for the honor roll.
> I have also sent home with the children the curriculumn they will be
>doing for their class, along with artist we study and vocabulary words
>we will learn for testing.
> I need ways to inform parents how important art is to their child's
>whole education so we don't have this attitude "Art isn't important".
> Thanks,
> Sandy Poos

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