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Lesson Plans

Re: CELEBRATING PLURALISM and appropriation.

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Graeme Chalmers (gfchalm)
Tue, 11 Feb 1997 11:23:28 -0800 (PST)

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Dear Becky and Carla:

Thanks for your thoughtful contributions. I'm really pleased that this
discussion has "taken off . . ."

I certainly agree that students should be exposed to as many different
styles and forms of art as possible. As I have said before we live
increasingly multicultural lives, where cultures are constantly changing,
adapting and appropriating. "Food" would be an interesting example; my diet
is very different from that of my childhood.

If it helps us to understand the art of others, some form of sensitive
in-depth emulation such as that described by Carole Osman in my last posting
(that respects spiritual and other cultural sanctions) may indeed help us
see Becky's point that: "Art is not produced in a vaccuum but by the
interaction of thoughts, ideas,and feelings expressed (communicated) in
material form." It is the commonality of these thoughts, ideas, and
feelings that I want students to understand - the WHY of art, the WHAT IS

Carla, the last thing that I want to do is to set "up walls between people
and stifl[e] communication . . ." You state:

"Isn't a white child making a pinata (sorry-don't know how to write an "nye"
in this typeface!), or a Hispanic child singing "Ride the Chariot" (a Negro
spiritual) in a school choral concert, or Whoopi Goldberg playing Pseudolus
(a male Greek slave character created by Plautus in Ancient Rome) on
Broadway, a way of creating empathy for other cultures?"

Yes, I agree, with sensitive and committed teaching it can create empathy,
particularly if we can see how these things are part of cross-cultural
themes/concerns such as "celebration," "salvation," etc. My quibble is that
copying alone, particularly if it trivializes the "other's" art forms (what
I have called in CELEBRATING PLURALISM the "totems out of toilet rolls
approach"), won't always do this.

I don't think we're all that far apart. Again, thanks for your contributions.


Graeme Chalmers
Graduate Adviser
Department of Curriculum Studies
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6T 1Z4

Tel: 604 822-4842
Fax: 604 822-9366

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