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Lesson Plans

elementary generalists vs. art specialists

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kprs (kprs)
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 08:37:38 -0800

I just wanted to add more to the debate. And that is this, elementary
aged children love art for it's purity in color, design, subject
matter. They are caught up in it's magic. Very few students make it to
art class in the highschool with the magic left. Has art been
"generalized" and "common denominated" to the extent that the art
becomes just another "must do" for them? I tutor small children in art
afterschool. One of them said to me that he was tired of making the
same things over and over grade by grade, and he wanted to know how to
use pastels, because he saw work at an art museum his parents took him
to. Another student just wants to try everything, and he brings his
younger brother with him because his younger brother saw how excited he
was when he came home from his art experience. Perhaps what I am trying
to say is similar to my debate about Men and Women and that is men are
not the same as women, and art is not the same as academics. Art is just
as rigorous, just as "academic" (for want of another word)but a whole
different and distinct category, and quite frankly needs to be
facilitated by someone who knows the difference. To say that art is
everywhere is a given, to say that we should not separate the art from
the rest of the world is also a truism, but to say that all can teach
art is kind of tricky.

Which leads me to the debate of school funding, I suppose. I can
appreciate the fact that school boards have to make monetary decisions
and that the art specialist is the last to be hired and the first to
go. I have been there, and there is no saying that it won't happen
again. But we can't let that defeat us, and by constantly promoting the
arts, and having the children and parents promote the arts, they will
get the message,and it won't take years. The first thing one has to do
is contact the community, i.e. local art associations, parents and have
them work with you to get that needed elementary art teacher. In the
meantime, let us hope that the elementary specialist has a love for art
(not limited to the crafts) and the enthusiasm, stamina,and humor to
foster the magic in all of her charges.

San D

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