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Lesson Plans

Re: Remington and Russell

From: Henry Taylor (taylorh)
Date: Thu Jul 20 2000 - 10:16:04 PDT

  • Next message: Bunki Kramer: "Re: Simple Substitute Plans"

    Lets see how we disagree Michal.

    I show artists reproductions all the time myself. I will also try
    to give some time and consideration to how I will present them,
    how individuals in my class will respond to them, and what
    accomodations might be useful. I try never to give an assignment
    based on an original or a reproduction where I don't think that a
    majority of the class can do almost as good a job as or better
    than their parents. (Have we ever looked at parent work BTW?
    Visiting parents get the same assignments as the kids in my
    classes. Kids, not infrequently, produce the better work.
    Parents, not infrequently produce at a level comparable to 1st or
    2nd Graders)

    " > my students all know " Well yes, of course the know,
    especially if you remind them frequently. But what exactly does
    that mean? My students "know" an incredible amount of data which
    is essentially meaningless to them, but they know that they are
    supposed to know and so they do---as long as necessary.

    BUT, How do they FEEL about practice? Is it worth the effort for
    them or do they only "practice" because it is assigned and
    assumed to be required? If we walk out to the basketball court we
    can look at what students do when the teacher isn't around. If we
    walk around the school we'll see if we find the same amount of
    energy being put in to art practice---as represented in our
    classrooms---without teacher input. We can look at the artwork
    associated with assignments in other disciplines--history and
    biology for example. How well does it reflect an exposure to the
    reproductions which we choose and practice of the lessons of
    those reproductions?

    " > but these are also my laziest kids who want the results
    without the work. "

    How seriously do they believe that the work will lead to success
    FOR THEM? Is it worth the effort FOR THEM? It's easy to put the
    responsibility on the kids; but it's only fair to a limited
    degree. There is, most likely, a lot more going on than kids
    simply being lazy. Check it out. These kids ARE very probably
    working hard on something somewhere--maybe not something academic
    or artistic however. Still, that's NOT being lazy; it's merely an
    efficient use of energy. "Work on what is important." If they are
    not working on art WHY NOT? Oh yeah, sure. They would like to do
    better BUT ART ISN'T IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO THEM is one message
    which I can find here. . . . MAYBE. Just because I can interpret
    things in a certain way doesn't make it so or even reasonable.
    "Criticism" is just as often a creative and imaginative endeavor
    with little if any actual relationship to its subject. Being
    RIGHT isn't as important as exploring alternatives and finding
    what fits the best and where.

    My job as an elementary art teacher--the precise reason I became
    one--is that I had encountered too many little kids, who, in
    primary grades already "knew" that they wouldn't be artists or
    have any important relationship to art. I'm not in the classroom
    to improve anyone or their skills. I'm there to try and get my
    charges engaged, in some way, in aesthetic practice. Improvement,
    especially at the k-5 level, seems kind of jumping the gun
    considering the state of art in North America today where hardly
    anyone grasps how central certain aspects of art and aesthetics
    are to their lives and identities. I'd argue to save practice
    leading towards "improvement" for self-identified specialists in
    high school and college--but that's me.

    One thing I am NOT in the ArtEd classroom for is to specialize in
    building consumers for the broad arts industry which includes:
    galleries, auction houses, museums, interior designers, mall
    poster shops, and the clearance shelves at Walmart. We have an
    entire planet, full of people who are engaged in art in one way
    or another and the vast majority of them never enter such places
    and generally have a quite different relationship to art. Seeing
    as that relationship is not based on commercial interest and
    potential profit I have a little more respect for it. Again,
    that's me--not what anyone is supposed to think.

    Now there is a lot of stuff which I don't know. I may have an
    idea what my kids know but I have no confidence that I actually
    KNOW anything highly significant about it. I am constrained to
    "know" about my kids competence interms of academic protocols but
    I don't have a tremendous amount of confidence in them either.

    I believe that "real" art is for everyone. I really have an
    antipathy towards activity art which uses materials not found in
    the 'real" model, and provides reasons for making"Art" from some
    original model which do not correspond to the purpose behing the
    existence of the original "real" work. I believe in "real" art
    tools and materials. The reason that artists want to use the best
    materials is often because they art the easiest way to accomplish
    superior work and I see no reason to make student work more
    difficult by being cheap.

    " > Now if I took the Remington in and expected the kids to
    reproduce what
    > they saw in clay, then yes, I can imagine frustration. "

    My original post was more about what THE KIDS EXPECTED; more
    specifically, what I expected of myself as a kid. Clearly I was
    not typical. Further it was about what THE KIDS BELIEVED was
    expected of them; specifically, what I believed could expected of
    me as a kid. Again, clearly I was not typical. If today I only
    teach to the typical kid then it seems that I would probably be
    willing to accept that kids who were less than typical would fall
    through the cracks and that there was, in education, a viable
    notion of "acceptable losses." I don't accept that.

    One of my reasons for showing up and posting on this list is to
    say that "Hey, there was once a kid in art class who had these
    kinds of experiences and WAS generally allowed to slip through
    the cracks. If you don't have someone like me this year maybe it
    will be next year." I represent a small statistical minority in
    Art Ed classrooms. I'm even a greater rarity because I continued
    to pursue art despite a label of "Lazy Kid" while a greater
    percentage probably just became frustrated consumers and
    non-practicing connoisseurs. (How many of us do you suppose
    actually become Art Teachers?)



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