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Lesson Plans

Re: artsednet-digest V2 #35

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Kit Eakle (
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 04:35:25 -0400

I find myself having to respond to San D's response to Elizabeth Paul.
I have great difficulty in the rationale expressed that a specialist is
required as "art teacher" at the elementary level. It seems to me that
elementary teachers are generally NOT specialists in Mathematics, English,
Social Studies OR Art OR Music OR Drama, or anything else. They are in
fact"generalists." This , of course chanfges at the secondary level, where
specialists are essential.

Bu tat the elementary level, it is essential that we not set a model for
kids that the arts are something that can only be taught by "specialists"
who hold some magical awareness or "talent" that others can't have. That
only encourages the idea that only the "specially talented" have any use
for the arts and establishes arts more firmly in others minds as an
"elective" for those with talent.

Surely we believe that the arts are a part of anyone's and everyone's
education NOT an elective. In that spirit, it seems to me that it is
essential that the "generalist" have at least some education and knowledge
of the arts.

It therefore seems to me that any teacher who takes it upon themselves to
be better prepared in this endeavor, should be encouraged to learn and
teach as much as possible through and about the arts. Indeed to demonstrate
the relationship of the arts to other subject areas also encourages the
notion of the essential role of the arts in all education

This is not to say that there is no role for someone in with an art
specialty in the elementary school, quite the contrary. It only means that
art specialists at this level see themselves as educators first, and should
have some awareness of how the arts relate to the other subject areas as
well. To divorce the arts from other core subjects is to denegrate the
essential role of the art in all learning.

We do need art specialists who can demonstrate to their elementary peers
how essential we are to children's learning. Indeed I have seen art
specialists who can design a total elementary program effectively around
art, encorporating all the math, science, language arts and social studies
a young student needs. But surely elementary art specialists must also
encourage their "non-expert" colleagues to achieve a better level of
understanding about what the arts are and how they can enrich their
teaching as well.

This is a fight that must be fought in education faculties everywhere. All
teachers need the same level of training in the arts as they do in math or
language arts. But that is another story. In the context of this list, I
would hope we would encourage all generalist teachers to belong and ask
questions, in order that they may gain the awareness and knowledge they all
too often do not receive in their university training.

Let us stand up for the arts, to be sure. But the arts are essential for
all. So let's educate all. And as experts in the elementary schools, let's
share our knowledge with all, making sure they understand its basics. Let's
not reserve it as something which no one else is able to possess.

If we truely share the power of art, no one will be able to justify
"pumpkins" as having anything to do with anything as basic - and essential
- as art.

Kit Eakle

>From: Elizabeth Paul <epaul>
>Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 01:04:55 -0600
>Subject: California Missions
>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.
>Any suggestions would be very welcomed! Thanks --
>Elizabeth Paul

>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.
> 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

Kit Eakle
Program Manager
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
Washington, DC