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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
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.