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Lesson Plans

Re: Even more on elementary generalists and art specialists

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
carla harwitt (
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 22:38:17 -0800 (PST)

Unfortunately music is in exactly the same (terrible) position vis-a-vis
elementary schools in CA. When I was growing up in NY (I'm 42, so you can
figure out the years), we had a classroom teacher who taught us the
"basics," and we would go to the art teacher and to the music teacher
several times a week, just as we'd go to the gym (PE) teacher. I found it
interesting and somewhat lopsided when I moved to CA, that my children get
none of this from specialists. In a few schools, parents groups raise
money to provide art specialists. I think all the children lose out by not
having these "frills," which I frankly consider "basics."
-Carla H.

On Tue, 21 Jan 1997, Elizabeth Paul wrote:

> 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.