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Lesson Plans


ART Is Not Important

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David Zimmerman (fastedy)
Fri, 19 Dec 1997 09:48:11 -1000

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I appreciate hearing discussion of this topic as I am struggling right now
with a new private high school (it only has a 9th and 10th grade so far)
where I teach art once a week. I agree that this is an uphill battle
because inherent in scheduling a class once a week is the inference that
the class is very separate and not on the same level with a class that
meets daily. Classes that don't have tests and homework also seem to be
less important than ones that do. In my Introduction to Advertising Class
I have been giving out simple homework assignments (this is HIGH School
afterall!) which none of the kids do. The principal's solution to this
problem is not to give homework! Its just Art.

Most administrators in my experience have agreed that the arts are a
valuable part of the educational process but few are committed to putting
the art classes on a par with the academic subjects. I think art IS an
academic discipline. I think artists have to use their brains. I think
spelling is important in art as well as language arts. I don't know what
else to do but continue to keep my standards high.

Working as an Artist-in-the-Schools at the elementary level, I have been
linking my art classes to social studies curriculum. I would add to Mark's
list of maintaining high profile: Keeping close contact with classroom
teachers and their curriculum. If at all possible, meet with the teachers
and plan classes around what they are studying. Its easy to do an art
lesson on, say, painting, plugging in their subject matter.

This works well on many levels. It makes the classroom teachers and
administrators happy and supportive; it teaches art techniques and concepts
while reinforcing other subjects; and most importantly it models a more
holistic approach to learning and art production. In most cultures
throughout history, (except our more recent Western one) art was never
separated from other areas of life. Compartmentalized learning doesn't
prepare our students well for life. It often results in statements like
"this is art, I don't have to spell it right." My response to these
statements is usually "No, this isn't ART, this is LIFE, where all things
are connected."

I agree with the suggestions made about keeping a high profile with
parents, faculty and students. Hang all the work you can with interesting
and informative labels.

Deb Rosenbaum


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