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Lesson Plans

multiculturalism / social deconstructionism in art education

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Daniella Ramos Barroqueiro (barroque)
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 00:06:35 -0600

I am an art teacher of young children and a graduate student at the
University of Illinois. Recently, I have begun to rethink my approach to
art education. I am quickly realizing the potential of art education in
terms of social reform. Because of the freedom that many art teachers have
in making decisions about curricula, there is opportunity to go beyond the
traditional and expected teachings of, for example, the elements of design,
Impressionism, perspective, and so on. Of course, it will always be
important to teach process and technique and to introduce students to "the
masters". But there are many other important that can be addressed
creatively in an art room environment.
Previously, I did not believe it was the responsibility of an art
teacher to address the important issues of cultural diversity,
ethnocentrism/racism, sexism, poverty, war, violence, environmental
problems, issues of disabilities and special needs, the list goes on. Now
I think I may be ready to accept this role, and through art, hopefully
encourage discourse and critical thinking. I must admit, I am not sure
where to begin. As it is, there seems to be "too much to teach, and no
time to teach it". But I believe it can be done.
I feel, to be done correctly, this approach should not be viewed as
merely an addendum to a curriculum, as Black History has been added to the
month of February, but as a total and natural intergration of important
issues and experiences that have been skimmed over or completly neglected
by history, society, and art education. For those who prefere to step with
caution, perhaps simply exposing students to forms of Eastern Art on a more
regular basis would be a good start.

I would be interested in any opinions on the subject or suggestions on how
to begin to reshape my teaching in the ways that I have mentioned. Here is
some food for thought..

Is it our responsibility to take on social reform?

Should we just stick to what we know - Picasso, Michaelangelo, and the

Is Formalism really dead? Does anyone teach conceptual art to children? Is
it appropriate to do so?

Do we need to teach aesthetics and art criticism? Do we know how?

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