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Lesson Plans

Even more on elementary generalists and art specialists

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Elizabeth Paul (epaul)
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 16:21:15 -0600

Hi, Rosa--
Thanks for joining in. I do believe we need art specialists in elem schools,
really I do!, but I want to play devil's advocate here for a moment drawing
on what you wrote (and a few others before you -- I'm not trying to pick on
you): "...we must still fight for the right of every elementary school
student to have a "real" art teacher to teach art as a subject just like
reading, writing, math and science..." That's a difficult argument to
defend, I think, because in the U.S. reading, writing, math, and science are
not taught by specialists but by very real generalists. Those are the sorts
of arguments I would like to caution those advocating for the place of art
specialists in the schools from using, because I find it's an easy argument
to shoot down by those not already believing in the importance of art education.

On a related note, math is very different from teaching reading which is
very different from teaching science which is very different from teaching
social studies/history, etc. My point being most subjects required to be
taught by the general classroom teacher require different knowledge bases
and different methodologies, to some extent anyway, from one another. So why
not art? I agree whole-heartedly with you that preservice training for gen
ed teachers in the art is sorely inadequate. In fact, I think much
preservice training in California in general is inadequate but that's a
whole 'nother topic.

And I definitely support your statement that the arts need more than two
hours a week! Much more.

So, continuing with my devil's advocate role, over the last couple of days
we've talked about having ideal situations (i.e., having art specialists)
and how to get there, but here's a reality-based question for those of you
adamant about general classroom teachers not teaching art: California has
more or less eliminated art specialists at the elementary level, sad to say.
But that's the reality here, and probably some other states, and it's not
going to change in the foreseeable future in California -- at least five or
more years, given everything else going on in educ here right now and the
overall conservative climate. So you don't want me teaching art in my
classroom (not me personally necessarily, I hope, but using me as the
figurative general ed teacher) -- that means most students in California
simply won't get any art education until, if they're lucky, middle school or
maybe high school. And then it's probably an elective (I don't really know
for sure) so even that is hit-or-miss. The less the arts are taught, the
less they will be valued because it doesn't build that informed,
art-enthusiastic citizenry.

That's how it looks to me. Again, I think most of us here would agree,
ideally we should have art specialists in the elem schools. But how do you
propose dealing with the reality that I, personally and figuratively, am
facing as a teacher in California?

Thanks! -- Elizabeth P.

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