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Lesson Plans

Re: California Missions

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Elizabeth Paul (epaul)
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 22:26:03 -0600

Hi, San D-
Your response brought to mind many issues for me. I hope I can relay them
fairly concisely. I look forward to more discussions about all this.

To answer your first question, I'm getting my credentials in general elem
ed, not art ed. Just fyi, I'm also getting my secondary credentials in both
social studies and math (all at the same time, whew!). Let me emphasize up
front that I agree wholeheartedly with the importance of artS education and
the importance of having people who are trained to teach it in every single
school at every single grade. I would be the first to support having
specialists in not only visual arts, but music, theatre, and dance, at any
school I teach. But I am also dealing right now with the reality out there
in the schools where I am likely to teach. The program I'm in focuses on
teaching in urban (what was formerly referred to as inner-city) Los Angeles
schools. (And I picked it because that's where I want to teach.) Having
been in LA for many years, I know not many of the schools here, "urban" or
otherwise, have art teachers at the elem level.

I also know that there is no way an art teacher will be hired in the next
year and a half at the school where I am student teaching. The 4th graders
with whom I will be working (about 70 -- two classes, a team teaching situation)
have spent nearly five years in school without substantive art education. As
I'm sure you and everyone on this list would agree, that's way the heck too

So this is my chance to get at least something substantive to them. (And I
also hope to have the performing arts incorporated too, by the way, to the
best of my abilities, by the end of the year.) Just by way of background,
prior to going into teaching, I worked for 12 years, nearly 7 of those on
behalf of arts education although not as a teacher. That experience however
did afford me the opportunity to attend many professional development
institutes (primarily in the visual arts), conferences, etc -- as well as
the opportunity to learn different perspectives -- from art teachers, other
teachers, administrators, board members, policymakers, parents, etc. I
certainly have no desire to undermine the role of the art teacher by
incorporating art education in my classroom. And in fact I would argue that
it only serves to strengthen the importance and value of the arts.

Even if there were an art teacher at this school (and I fervently wish there
were), I would still want to incorporate art education in my own classroom
-- as a way to build off of what goes on in the art classroom. I don't
believe in teaching subjects in isolation. That's not how the real world
works, but more importantly, I don't believe that's not how kids learn best.
Authentic learning, interdisciplinary, and all that stuff.

And from having worked in a different position in (art) education for many
years as well as in politics prior to that, I believe the best way to
convince administrators, other teachers, parents -- students!-- that the
arts are important and are basic to education is by showing them good stuff
in action. And not just studio art, although that's vitally important, but
the full spectrum of disciplines (the DBAE thing) that make a student--child
or adult-- informed about the world of art. If there isn't an art teacher,
an art program or even basic art curricula in place, then that leaves an
even greater burden on me as a classroom teacher to do a great job with the
arts to show how and why they are meaningful. And why it's important to get
an art teacher and an art program in the school. Telling people it's
important won't do it. Believe me, I get disheartened, frustrated, angry,
too that the arts are so devalued in schools and elsewhere despite the fact
that they surround each and everyone of us in our daily lives.

More than most beginning general ed teachers, I have the advantage of
knowing about a lot more art ed resources. Hence my query to this group
about good, substantive art ed projects related to the subjects I will very
soon be teaching.

I look forward to more discussions and other perspectives on this (as well
as responses to my original query about California missions!).

-Elizabeth Paul, teacher-in-training

At 10:50 AM 1/19/97 -0800, you wrote:
>Hi Elizabeth:
> Here's my question to you, are you going to be certified in art
>education? The reason I am asking is; when we start to "incorporate"
>art education into other areas, we justify to boards of education that
>they do not "need" to hire an art educator. While I am all for team
>teaching, sharing with collegues, etc., I am the expert in my field, and
>am treated as such. If you are training to be an art teacher, it is my
>opinion, that you must keep reinforcing the need for an art educator at
>that school. I know that you are in a position of student teaching only,
>and don't have power. But you can educate those around you too, while
>you are learning.
> By way of example, I started an art club at my school, many years
>ago. And when the kids started coming (and I encouraged everyone to
>come, regardless of talent or participation in the art program), the
>students wanted to do "art" afterschool (like ceramics, painting etc).
>As I explained to them at the time, if you want to do ceramics, then
>sign up for the course, otherwise I will have no program and you will be
>getting me to teach an additional class afterschool. Art club was and
>is for group projects for the school and community. It would have been
>very easy for me to have taught ceramics to one kid, and painting to
>another afterschool, but essentially they would not be in an art class,
>sharing with other art students, AND the bottom line would be eventually
>I would have a reduced amount of classes.
> Those of us in the "electives" know that a)kids can "get by",
>according to Boards of Education and other politicians with a "basic"
>art "pumpkins" and b)if WE don't stand up for our
>subject matter, who will?
> San D
>>Elizabeth Paul wrote:
>> Hi, all--
>> I will be starting to student-teach in a 4th grade class in Feb (general
>> ed). I will be starting with language arts and then adding on social
>> studies, and would like some ideas that incorporate art education. The
>> topic in social studies at the time I will start teaching is California
>> missions. Does any one have recommendations of particularly good resources
>> and/or activities? I'm looking for things that incorporate not only studio
>> activities but the whole gambit -- aesthetics, criticism, and history.
>> By way of background, these kids will be starting out pretty much at ground
>> zero for art education. Near as I can tell, they've only had a smattering
>> of art and it's been the "art as filler" or "pumpkins in October" stuff. The
>> school doesn't have an art program/curricula yet although it does have a new
>> principal who is very supportive and interested in getting substantive art
>> education in the classrooms. The school is very urban LA; has a nice
>> computer lab and a computer in every classroom. Overall, the community has
>> lots of new immigrants as well as some families who've lived there for
>> several generations. It's predominantly is low-income; largely Latino
>> although also some Pacific Islander, African-American, and white.
>> Any suggestions would be very welcomed! Thanks --
>> Elizabeth Paul
>> UCLA Teacher Education Program