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Lesson Plans

How to live a better life -long post

From: Larry Seiler (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 09:29:49 PDT

  • Next message: L. E. Horvath: "Renaissance Portraiture"

    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. 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
    why? 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 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.

    Larry Seiler
    My Paintings-


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