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> I believe that teaching
>of art fundamentals is critical. I believe that DBAE has offered a
>theory of structure which is beneficial to art instruction at all
> I have shared how to mix color. I have shared how
>to talk about art work. I have shared concepts to stimulate thinking
>of what is art and what is not.
Something came to me as I read the above words - I think half of us are
talking about one thing and half of us are talking about another. At the
different levels of education, the emphasis in the art room is different.
In college, the students in the art department are either honing their
skills to become artists or learning how to teach skills to other people in
an educational setting... people who will perhaps become artists. At the
High School level, students who are in the art department may be taking an
"easy credit" or they may be thinking of art as a career... some of them
will be consumers of art and are getting background for that. At the
Middle School and Elementary level, art is like a survey course- we are
teaching kids to appreciate art as well as how to produce it. ALL students
in our elementary and middle schools take art at least once a week and
sometimes art is taught as is history - an overview of what has happened
and who has done what. Art is also taught by introducing various
production techniques - ie.. this is how you create ceramic pottery, this
is how you get different colors, this is how you make volume appear on a
two dimensional surface, etc.. But it should be remembered that part of
the beauty of having a classroom full of 4th graders in an art class, is
that you have the opportunity to introduce them to the beauty of the world
and to show them things that they would not otherwise be exposed to.
Seeing that beauty and wonder will do what art has done for centuries... it
will enrich their lives and open their minds to creating their own beauty.
It will also tell them something about the people and cultures that have
gone before them in time.
Not many of our elementary age students will end up in a career in the
field of art, so to focus primarily - at that age level - on art training,
would be to miss the chance to open their eyes to the world around them. I
can remember teaching my 2nd graders about mummification in Egypt, which
led to learning about pyramids (architecture) used as tombs, which led to
telling them how the organs of the mummies would be put in canopic jars,
which finally led to teaching the techniques of clay construction as they
each made their own jar (after about 3-4 class periods of practice). In
that one project, they learned pinchpot , coil pot, and modelling as they
made their jar lid adorned with the head of an animal, to guard the
treasure inside. The next week, the class came in buzzing and two of the
children were holding books .. - "Ms G., look!! It talks about mummies in
this book!" ... "Ms. G. - I was reading a Goosebumps book and they were
talking about canopic jars!!"
Can you see the point I am trying to make (or have I managed to obscure
it)? At the elementary level, I feel I am teaching my students about the
world as well as teaching them about how to make works of art - how to
manipulate the materials and elements to come up with art of their own. I
don't see that the state of art education at my level is in terrible
condition - rather, it is enjoying a resurrection from the days of
decorated clorox bottles and trace-your-turkeys and is heading towards a
rounded exposure to what art has been and what it is to each student