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Re: Am I Wrong


From: Sharon Henneborn (heneborn_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Feb 11 2001 - 21:50:26 PST

This is a very interesting thread. We all seem to have very strong
feelings about what is appropriate. I have learned a lot from this
thread and would like to add a clarification of my first post.

I strongly believe that I should not set up an arbitrary set of don'ts
as if it is universal. I will set criteria for a lesson or unit but I
try to make it clear that that is criteria for that lesson only and
not a universal concerning art. I wouldn't want a young artist to get
the idea that there is something inherently wrong with an idea they
really like. It just doesn't meet the criteria for this particular
lesson. I probably say that so many times the kids are sick of
hearing it.

I certainly remind them that for any lesson in my art class they will
have to create symbols and cartoon drawings of their. They have to go
by the school rules that apply to T-shirts. I used to find that the
child who has not been trained to expand on an idea would do initials.
That is OK with me for the first sketch/attempt. I encourage them to
use an old familiar theme when they are learning a new medium or
concept. Then when they know from experience what the possibilities
and limitations are they need to expand and take risks and develop
something that is entirely their own. I think you can intimidate
students who are not practiced at developing their original ideas and
they feel a failure unless you give them guidance for moving beyond
the first trite thought. To tell a student it is trite and not guide
further is not teaching. I am just stating this for emphasis and I
don't assume that has been the approach from anyone writing on this

I remember how lost I felt when I was at entry level in skills in any
subject and the teacher pointed out what I was doing wrong but didn't
help me find my way or open any other doors. I appreciated the
teacher who would point to some possibilities to get me started.

I liked the clay assignments (like lanterns etc) that were mentioned
in several posts that had a theme that could be very open ended but
eliminated the ash trays.

Thanks for all the good ideas because we all struggle with this.

And to the post who mentioned mushrooms and something else. I know
the mushrooms are used symbolically for hallucinogenics I tell the
kids that I don't like the way they attach drug and sexual meanings
to perfectly good things and ruin them for me. Oh well! When the grown
ups know the secret language then they have to develop another set of

Have a good week,
 Sharon from NJ
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