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Lesson Plans

Re: elementary generalists vs. art specialists

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 16:07:37 -0800

Amen! I loved your message! I am a philosopher who hopes to specialize in Aesthetics
when I get to Graduate school - a few years down the road. I hope to do my thesis or
doctorate in Aesthetics for Children. I'm excited that aesthetics is being incorporated
into the classroom. I love Art! Music, ballet and painting etc, but do you know when I
became EXCITED about art? I didn't know that much about painting, so when I had the
opportunity at college, I took the art appreciation class which I really enjoyed
(taught by an art professor ). It wasn't until I took my Philosophy of Art class (taught
by a philosopher) that I REALLY "GOT IT". That's when I became so excited about art! I
realized that art and artists really are different and wonderful. Art speaks a
different language so to speak, sometimes art is not ABOUT anything, it just IS. The
most important lesson that I learned from that class is that you have to experience art.
You have to be AT the symphonic concert or be AT the ballet or standing in front of the
original art work. Our professor had us write a philosophy paper on one original work of
art. We had to be able to experience the artwork and discuss a question of aesthetics.
Needless to say we were limited in that we had to use only the local museums. Many
students did not understand her demand. They wanted to write a historical piece with a
print, reproduction or museum catalog as their reference. She was very specific. We
had to understand that art was something to experience and we had to be there with the
original artwork. It was a very valuable lesson that really changed my life. This is so
important and it is a lesson that is left out of art appreciation classes (many times).
This experience or aesthetic response is VITAL! It is this experience that moves
people to inspiration and excitement. That is why Aesthetics is being pushed into the
curriculum. It is the aesthetic experience that makes it possible for us to make value
judgements (this is not meant to be taken as judgmental or critical - it is very
different). You are quite right, Art is DIFFERENT in a wonderful way. I applaud those
educators who are already incorporating aesthetics into their curriculum. Philosophers
have known this secret (importance of aesthetics) for years and we are excited that it
is on the forefront of discussion. As a philosopher I hope to make aesthetic education
a vital part of my future work in academia and at the younger level if they'll let me.
Some schools have not yet digested the idea of letting someone with a philosophy degree
come in and teach at the lower levels although I'm working on it. Right now I'm
continuing my schooling, (I have a little ways to go) and this coming summer I am
developing a program called Reflections on Art which is a philosophy of art class for
5-7th grades. This is a GT summer program offered through IUPUI. It is the experience
of art that puts excitement into our lives. Some children NEVER "get it" or they lose
the magic as you aptly said. I'm sorry this message was soooo long. I don't know what
came over me.


On Mon, 20 Jan 1997, kprs <kprs> wrote:
>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