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Re: my art books have been confiscated for decency HELP


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Feb 10 2004 - 11:46:23 PST

For what it is worth, the National Art Education Association home
page uses a series of art history images that randomly appear when
you go to their home page. It looks like about 20 percent of the
images are not fully clothed. If you go to the web site, use your
REFRESH or RELOAD button and you will eventually see all the images
used. One is a frontal view of David by Michelangelo. Others do
show Baby Jesus.

Every community (I also live in Indiana) seems to have a few zealous
fundamentalist book burners. If I were asked to defend my use of
books in class, I might check to see what the school librarian is
required to do. In some cases the librarian can provide some useful
help. Of course not all librarians are helpful. I remember a
prudish librarian ca. 1970 in a college in Virginia that glued the
pages of art history books together to keep college students from
seeing certain pictures.

If we are to survive as a species we must learn tolerance for people
with various perspectives and beliefs about sin. Most of the wars
these days are being fought because intolerant people refuse to read
any books other than those that their bigoted leaders approve of.
Art class, by virtue of our emphasis on individual integrity,
creativity, and choice making, is one of the places where the
democratic principle of tolerance is learned and cherished.
Intolerant people are very threatened when their children become more
enlightened than they are, so they seek to control every aspect of
education to keep their children uninformed and unable to think and
make their own choices in life.

I find it particularly sad that a public school administrator is not
being supportive of a teacher that is working hard to make a class
challenging and enlightening. Administrators that fail to go to bat
for their teachers will soon find that more and more of their
students are also failing. When teachers are demoralized, education
itself is victim. When the lowest common denominator of
enlightenment sets our standards, it may be time to get our
educational credentials updated.

On the positive side, many parents are be very supportive and
helpful. If they feel that the art program is in jeopardy, I believe
they will come to a hearing and lend their support. Of course this
is a last resort, but sometimes a cause is worth the effort. School
administrators need to know that not all parents are intolerant and
unenlightened. Some of us even take our children to art museums.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before."
... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.