First, greetings from Fairfax County, Virginia. I am the art supervisor for
a large school system serving over 150,000 students. One of my roles is to
oversee the curriculum writing for our K-12 art program. I am very
interested in Mary's models in "Our Place in the World." I have read several
responses and look forward to conversing with all of you. A special hi to
Dave Beaman of Minnesota. I taught high school art in Mahnomen, MN for
eleven years from 1978-1989. Also, I remember meeting you when I was invited
to present to the Staples/Motley crew (no pun intended) several years ago.
The accent won't bother me a bit, by the way.
What follows is my response to the assignment, so only the truly motivated
need read further.
Introduction to "Our Place in the World"
Q. What do you suppose the title is about?
A. I expect a connection to be made between the real world experiences of
students and cultural antecedents from many cultural perspectives.
Q. Does the mural have anything to do with the title?
A. The image is too small to tell exactly what is going on. It appears as if
a boy is receiving a gift from a woman while a man looks on. I do not know
the significance of the eagles in the sky, but they seem important since one
seems to be hovering over the scene. I cannot read other details of the
image. I will click on the image now. I clicked on the largest view of the
image. I now see that the boy or young man is receiving a cloak from the
woman. There is a large group of people in the background also looking on.
The only connection I make initially is that it appears as if I will learn
something about Native American culture and that I may be asked to make a
connection between this tradition and one in my culture.
Q. What does the page lead you to expect you will find in the curriculum
A. I expect a core set of lessons. A supplementary set of lessons connected
in some way to the core lessons. Because the lessons are inquiry-based, I
expect sets of questions derived from a set of activities that will lead me
to research and seek answers in specific areas of study related to the
Q. Which link (highlighted word or image) interests you most?
A. The image interests me the most. Because of my years spent working on a
reservation, I am interested in how the rite of passage that will be
described may relate to the rites of passage with which I am familiar.
Q. Why do you think that link interests you?
A. As state above.
Q. Click on that link and read what you find.
A. My interest was to go directly to the story behind the image. It was not
apparent how I would get there. I will try again now. I went to "Rites of
Passage" hot button and found the information I was looking for.
Q. Is it what you expected?
A. No. I expected a story as told in the Native American tradition. The
lesson is more a reference to a story.
Q. What further question(s) does it raise?
A. What tribal groups use this rite? Who is the teller of the story? Who
has collected the story? What rites of passage do we expect of our own
children? Are they tacit rather than explicit because we fear our children
making the passage? Do explicit rites help children become adults in a more
Q. What might it offer you as a teacher?
A. As a trainer of teachers I see the lesson as a good example of how we can
use the stories and images of other cultures to help us understand more about
our own culture and more about the world in which we live. We will not be
attempting to make art in the style of or the imagery of another culture but
instead will be taking what we have discovered an applying it to our own
understandings and expressions.
Q. Notice that there is an index at the bottom of this (and all pages in the
help you chart your path through the curriculum resource.
Activity Two: Reviewing Key Artworks
Our Place in the World highlights two key artworks: an Ice Age cave painting
of a bison and a 19th Century Sioux parfleche case. Choose either the bison
or the parfleche to investigate more fully. After you click on one of the
artworks, notice that you find an image of the work accompanied by some
identifying information about it. Notice also that you have three highlighted
options. You can view the artwork in a "larger' or "largest" size or click
for "more information." It may be valuable for you to know that you can print
out the images on either black and white or color printers, or copy the
images onto a disk.
As you click on "more information," then on "Answers to Art History
Questions," and skim through the information, please consider:
Q. What information about the artwork especially interest you? Why?
A. I was especially interested in the use of elements and principals of
design in letters E and F under the Roman numeral I in the outline (E.What
elements did the maker choose? (sensory elements) and F. How did the maker
organize the elements? (formal organization).) From my own time spent living
and working among the Ojibway and Sioux people of the region described, I see
a possible problem in the format of these questions. For example, it may be
a wrong assumption to assume that elements were chosen by the maker. In the
Sioux tradition their may not have been a choice. The maker may have only
been following the mandates of her family blueprint for the parfleche. There
may have been little or no understanding by the maker of any aesthetic
choices to be made, only the family pattern to be followed. Creativity,
uniqueness, and conscious aesthetic decisions may not have been involved at
all. When examining the art of other cultures we must be careful to ask the
appropriate question. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be:
E. What elements do you see in the work?
F. How do these elements appear to be organized?
With these questions, we leave the criteria for looking in the hands of the
viewer (ala Marcia Eaton) and leave out assumptions regarding the maker.
Activity Three: Reviewing The Core Lessons
Our Place in the World presents a sequence of seven Core Lessons. As you
begin exploring these lessons please think about which lesson you think might
be most useful for your needs and why. Open all the Core Lessons in turn, by
clicking first on "Core Lessons" on the opening page and then on each
numbered lesson. Read the short overview of each lesson, which appears above
the line at the top of each lesson plan. Open the lesson you think may be
most useful to you and read through it completely, noting all its parts:
title, overview, objectives, activities, assessment, and resources.
Q. Why did you choose this lesson?
A. I chose lesson 3: Imagination Story Lesson. I made this selection
because it led to the story of Fee and the Meadow People. The image in the
introduction had captured my attention and I was interested in checking
whether my guesses about the story being told in the image was accurate.
Q. Which objective is most important to you and why?
A. "Students learn how to use their imaginations to get ideas for their own
art making." I believe this to be an extremely important objective in the
realm of multicultural art education. In order to move beyond the recreation
of another culture's artifacts through some activity focused on making and
technique, it is important for the students to make some connection between
the function of the object in question or the intent of the maker and their
own intentions for their artwork and purposes for making. In the
implementation of this object, I believe, lies the difference between
superficial use of other culture's artifacts in the art making process and an
understanding of some aspect of that culture. With this understanding one
might also better understand one's own culture.
Q. Which activity would you be most interested in trying with your students
A. As a follow up to the story, I would be interested in the students
illustrating "events or actions they could show in an artwork." This
activity may best show whether or not the students grasped the import of the
story being told, and whether or not they could make a connection between the
story and some event of similar import in their own lives.
Q. How would you adapt the lesson to better suit your students' needs and
A. I would make a transition from the story of Fee to the art making activity
by showing several examples of illustrations from the history of art in which
the artist is expressing some event of importance.
Q. How would you adapt the lesson to better suit your community's needs and
A. My examples would need to be model examples from a variety of cultures
since our student population comes from over 150 countries and speak over 100
languages and dialects. I would recommend to teachers that they use examples
that come from the cultural groups represented among their students.
Q. How might you plan to prepare your students for this lesson, or to follow
up on it?
A. I would follow up with the students presenting their illustration and
orally relating the type of event which inspired it.
Activity Four: Reviewing Supplements
The Supplementary Lessons section of Our Place in the World presents a
variety of supplementary and extension lessons and ideas, including ideas for
art criticism and aesthetics; an art history narrative, with lessons; general
inquiry lessons; other lessons; and an annotated bibliography of children's
literature. Select one supplementary page to investigate further.
Q. Why did you select that page?
A. I chose "Issues in Aesthetics" because I am a larger questions kind of
Q. Open the page and think about whether you might find it useful.
A. Any day that you can lead students from the particular and specific to
making broad and general responses to big questions is a good day. Education
is about students applying what they have learned. I like seeing application
Activity Five: Reviewing The Inquiry Approach
Our Place in the World draws content from four art disciplines: art making,
art history, art criticism, and aesthetics. First review the inquiry
questions in art making, art criticism, and aesthetics.
Q. Which question(s) from either art making, art criticism, or aesthetics do
you think might interest your students? Why?
A. Discussing a contemporary artworks, in particular Maya Ying Lin's Vietnam
Veteran's Memorial, as artworks that make places special would interest our
students. With our close proximity to Washington, D.C., our students have
an interest in the artworks that can be found there.
Next, review the seventeen art historical inquiry questions.
Q. Which question(s) from art history do you think might interest your
students the most? Why?
A. Why can't I locate 17 art history questions? Am I getting lost among the
Notice the four icons symbolizing the four key questions in the Our Place in
the World. Choose one of the icons to pursue more fully. Click on the icon to
open an index of lessons which address that questions. Choose one lesson to
open and consider more fully.
Q. Of all the objectives listed for the lesson, which one do you think is
most significant in addressing the key question you've selected?
A. I selected the key question, "What was the natural world like where the
artwork was made?" The objective "that Native Americans used materials from
nature to make and decorate their containers and clothing" seems most
appropriate for the key question. The students and the teacher would need to
explore the natural world of the Native Americans in question to see how they
used natural materials, why they used some and not others, what materials
were available, etc.?
Read through the lesson plan looking for the activity or activities that
engage students with that objective.
Q. Do you think the activity would be effective with your students? Why or
A. I think the activity would be effective if the resources are extensive.
The students will need to hear and see what materials Native Americans had
available to them.
Q. How might you enhance or modify the activity to make it more effective
with your students?
A. I would attempt to gather the materials that Native Americans had to use,
such as buffalo skin, so that the students could see what technical problems
Native Americans might encounter.