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RE: AEN hs rant


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Feb 27 2004 - 14:58:51 PST

There has been so much said the past few days on art expectations I hardly
know where to start.

Jan writes
> Fun + Art It's a thought struggle for me - but so is art. I don't always
> have fundoing my art - it's more about personal exploration and expression.
> Which then might mean that the art room is where students learn how to express
> themselves and think about other folks' expressions. What about fun.......?

What is fun?
No subject area can make everything fun for everybody all the time. But if
we take fun out of learning and reduce it to expectations and standards,
if we take away those things we resort to when given open opportunities for
free expression if we make everything an outcome that some just will
never reach if there isn't just one place left to have fun then
we will certainly see art become as whitewashed as everything else in our

Tell Freud and Einstein and Picasso that they shouldn't have had fun with
the ideas they played with
and do you ever really know who is the next Picasso in your class if you
don't give the chance for fun.

I think I have not seen any educational mission statement that doesn't
include some reference to life long learning. I just read something the
other day that said all the knowledge we need to survive changes every 28
minutes. Now, just how can bubbled in scantron sheets possibly maintain the
pace of the continuing changes in what we need to know? I think education
theorists, recognizing that we can't teach it all anymore, have taken the
path that we teach how to learn rather that what to learn. I'm not sure we
practice that.
How do you teach how to learn in art rather than what to learn?
If we, as Art Educators really want to make inroads into understanding the
learning process and how we accommodate to that learning (something we have
always done first) then I think it is imperative that we advocate for:
        how important the play is
        how to develop the play into meaningful expression
        how to recognize the inherent symbols that we rely on
        what role culture plays on the choices of the symbols
                 issues of place and identity
        perception is tied to culture
                 do we really perceive in the traditional ways art Ed is
fixated on? Do we really look at something and see the elements and
principals? Or do we make immediate connections and judgments and take it
in or disregard it because of the content and the need to make a
representational connection that is there or not? And is that connection
made because of skillful use of the elements and principles or is it made
because we think we make a connection? I'm not sure I buy into the skillful
use of elements and principles anymore except in advertising
         the influence of mass media
        the pace of visual barrage
        the incredible variety of the means to visually express

Over the past few years I have constantly and continually opted to let go
of what I think I need to teach, my expectations, and allowed the student to
choose. Sometimes I look at the results and think "yuck" But their
"yuck" is important. My job is to subtly redirect the "yuck" --- ask lots
of questions OFFER solutions, not demand them watch the process and
If you allow the freedom of discovery they will discover. They will come
into in their own time.
We must allow for the time ----they don't have the time anyplace else. Don't
think every student piece has to be a display piece, think every student
work is one on the road to a discovery. The best thing we give in art is the
opportunity for discovery and collaboration and choices. The best thing we
give is respecting the choices (even when we think it is yuck) I think we
are not about a terrific art show or website that basically fulfils are own
egos. We are about finding the place that the kid has to feel free and easy
about making marks that have been informed by the gentile prodding that we
do to get those marks out and then saying you made an important self
discovery -- your mark matters

Our job is so delicate. We want to fulfill standards we want evidence that
we have achieved learning Yet we sometimes forget that the innocent
marks are what the cave painter did and how come our history books start
with those innocent marks? In a time when everything seems possible why
do we forget that that the innocent observation is what might make a

I know is is long
but I learn from my kids everyday
I learn that something I see as potential ONLY needs a little pushing and
I learn that the kid that lacks technique only needs gentile prodding to
achieve excellence
I learn that their ideas are as important and meaningful as mine (even if it
is a sun in the corner)
I learn that they WILL work through a problem, if the problem means
something to them

and I learn that I can learn from them

Let go of your personal stuff. Let them have a voice in the issues concerns
and content of what it is that want express
If it's Care bears and Super Heroes then go with it and turn your lesson
into bringing them to a higher level of thinking about why they are attached
to these things.

Sometimes, I can't figure at all why a kid would care at all about some of
the stuff I see presented as lessons. I do see though , when I see lessons
connected to what they care about.

Ask your kids what they care about and make meaningful lessons about that
care. It's very easy to find something from the traditional that can connect
to what they care about .

We can make lists and lists about the relevancy of art ed... but if they
don't care there is nothing to make them care.

These kids are a different breed from me but I try I try to get
where they are to bring them to where I am