Dear Larry and everyone,
Larry has an important point. In an age when the visual arts is at risk
just about everywhere, we need to be so careful that school boards and
administrations do not assume and take over the arts and make very bad
decisions based upon faulty or false information. I know it is very hard to
educate some of these people (how ironic) but it is our job as visual arts
specialists to make the attempt to educate them to an understanding that new
media (like computers and software) can be integrated into visual arts, but
in no way can replace them. It is like saying that a paint brush can replace
a drawing class. A computer and a software program is merely a tool and a
medium for visual expression. Learning visual arts, how to see, how to
draw, how to create, how to utilize a variety of media, is all a part of
visual arts learning.
Keep battling. I recently brought a professional cartoonist and illustrator
into my cartooning classroom. He said that the industry is actually
beginning to swing back to hand drawn cartooning in a big way.
I use computers, digital cameras, scanners and software when it suits what I
and the student want to do. In cartooning we will be taking their finished
inked cartoons to the scanner. It's not a threat to your program if you
embrace it as just another medium and the administration understands that it
is just another medium that in no way replaces pencil, brush, or clay. If
they want proof, bring in a college level educator who teaches graphic arts,
cartooning and animation. Or bring in a professional cartoonist or
illustrator to discuss their process. If the admins refuse to believe you,
they have to believe a so-called Professional, right? Well...maybe not, but
at least you are in the fight.
Art Dept. Chair
Boiling Springs High School
Boiling Springs, PA
I teach art in a K-12 district, one that struggles as a small school in
northern Wisconsin to stay afloat with budgets. Ours is particularly
difficult as existing in a national forest, there aren't as many home owners
where we glean property tax operating expenditures, something like only 15%
of our money comes from there...and we depend much on state aide.
Unfortunately our southern half of the state's legislators with more voting
constituents forget about us in the upper northern half, and aide is
Technology became an odd bed partner for me. Coming on staff a number of
years ago as a professional artist, I had technology experience using
Photoshop to promote my own art business, and the internet and webdesign for
my own websites and such. I never thought I'd know enough to teach a
computer graphic arts class, but turns out I know more than I imagined where
education is concerned and am the designated technology integration leader
for the district.
The thing I am concerned about is that the arts may risk losing tactile
hands on art experiences if we are not balanced and careful. After all...in
a budget fiscally fragile time, a school leasing its computers and all set
with software might really enjoy that the more computer or technology taught
the less money needs to go toward supplies each year.
I began my computer graphic art program six years ago with the seniors...but
faculty seeing what those students had been learning thought they could get
more use from the student's understanding and assistance if they received
such education earlier. So in the transition I have a full semester
sophomore CGArts class. We spend time in that course doing darkroom photo
development, digital camera, scanning and what not...as well.
Getting my first seniors next year that took CGA as sophomores already, I am
planning with the counselor to revert and eliminate the computer course
option at that level. I think it will be important to give students more
hands on art experiences, advanced in ceramics or painting, sculpture or
independent work...and think I'd best do this now before the school board
and financial planning thinks the numbers show I need less money for
supplies in my department. IF not careful, I think we could see traditional
art get phased out with those saying art is art and the mode does not
Personally...while I think students need the technology and creative side of
that...it would be a disservice to them not to have opportunity to roll
their sleeves up and get a bit messy!