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From: "mdecker" <mdecker>
>We have a wonderful opportunity to ease the problems in the world.
> All teachers do. We as art teachers can help pass this onto others.
I will add, and make a comment to this idea. The way I see it, education in
the public school offers "knowledge" to its students. In the "spirit" of
pluralism and diversity, secular education has thus legally limited itself
to that aim only. As such, public schools are not able to teach "meaning."
So let me put the phrase together for those that like to contemplate. As
such- Public secular education gives "knowledge" to its students, but not
"meaning." It cannot give "purpose."
In a way...I see this as dangerous. Adding wood to burn fuel, but not
providing reasons for having fires to begin with. I think teachers sense
this...and give much of themselves in extracurricular activities. Try to
give a sympathetic listening ear. Try to encourage, etc., ... all that
comes out of their own inner sense of "meaning" and "purpose."
What provides meaning and purpose for individuals is what creates the
demarcation lines, and as concerns those that look to faith for
such...brings the ACLU as well. Thus...it is both generous and noble in not
wanting to step on any toes. However, perhaps meaning and purpose are in
the end important things that for fearing the potential of the few toes
stepped upon has in reality now created a vacuum and fueled greater fears
and insecurities for young people.
Knowledge alone is not meaningful. It is not satisfying. At a time when
high school teenagers are especially trying to make sense of the world,
their place in it, and know that graduation is like a cliff that will push
them off into the mainstream prepared or not.
Our hands are tied. The damage done. Technically....legally, we must
resolve to leave meaning and purpose to those agents outside of the school
doors. YET...we have those kids about 40 hours per week, and with
extra-curricular sports and activities, many young people much longer!
According to national statistics that I read one time in my working with
teens in community service, the average adult parent speaks directly and
one-on-one with their teen about eight minutes per week. Many many teens
today are unchurched. Thus...we at least have to ask (not as teachers of
course but as hopefully caring individuals), where will kids find meaning?
Thus far, it seems they have been and are trying to extract and squeeze it
out of the pop culture and media.
I sit here in a quandry as I contemplate a very likeable young man that was
a senior in my painting class this last year. Funny. Up beat. Spoke
highly of his parents. They had a restaurant and he was always trying to
urge my wife and I to come out and have one of their famour burgers. Famous
in his mind, and yes....quite delicious! He had friends, was very popular.
Yet...this last monday morning he took a shotgun to himself.
We are a small community, and such things are devestating. Everyone wonders
Again....school teaches knowledge. It is up to the student to assemble such
knowledge, and sort out meaning. I submit though that meaning is not
something the young and immature are able to necessarily begin to sort out
on their own, and it leaves a great vacuum in their souls. That no one
seems willing to help them sort this out appears to diminish their own
I do see art...as the supreme academic. In art classes, students after
learning basic art design principles and techniques can be encouraged
(especially and ideally at the high school level) to see art as a vehicle
for picking and choosing from their pool of acquired "knowledge" and
assemble and touch upon and investigate their feelings about the world at
large. It is an opportunity unprecedented in an environment that offers
ONLY knowledge for students, to consider that life has "meaning."
The danger is that we as facilitators ALSO being human, have our own sense
of what makes life meanigful, and it is difficult for us not to engage with
the students. It is difficult when we as sensitive aesthetic individuals
are able to see and understand struggles young people are attempting to cope
with to sort out, as we look over our curriculum just how we are going to
provide that "safe" environment that encourages young people to look at the
world. For all this, I raise a cup of Java to you all this morning....and
toast each and everyone of you. We carry a great burden, and possess
insights that convergent knowledge knows little of. May God...may your past
experiences; may wisdom, may your joys filled with laughter and your many
tears be consoling to you. May your own sense of meaning not go by
unappreciated, and may you breath silent thanksgiving as we empathize with
so many that do not have this sense.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jul 12 2000 - 09:35:02 PDT