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Curriculum help - something to think about (very long!)


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Jul 19 2003 - 11:43:45 PDT

> Hope this is helpful!

Yes, Vicki it was helpful to me - thanks.

(laugh out loud at me right now....this is what has been on my mind today)

Thought I'd throw this out -- One of the artists at Ann Arbor whose work I
most admired was self educated.... I got his web site address - but it is
off line right now.
No one told this artist the right way to make art. Here is a quote from
Gregory Hubbard - "My whole-life experience goes into my art"... I will
share more about him once I find out what happened to his web site.I am
going to email him this weekend.

Curriculum has come up again on Getty Arts Ed Net.....Art Curriculum is a
topic that has always concerned me. I went to enough DBAE courses to know
that I was never going to get that right (I couldn't do everything the
instructor was telling me I should be able to do - or should be doing....It
was very frustrating for me.... I stiill did DBAE - just did it my own way.
My eyes finally opened when I went to my first city school comprehensive art
symposium.... I found that what I was doing WAS the right way. It was so
refreshing to know I was really doing something right (smile). I went to one
other symposium since then - and it was really fun! I did some of the
actrivities with my students and they had fun doing them . They had fun
acting out their colors. My eyes really opened too after my character
educaton class - adding values - building character into my lesson made
teaching so much more fun.

I can't get this to say exactly what I want it to say without sounding
"offensive" to those who are really working hard to study art curriculum (I
did spend a long time writing this)....I believe that ART is the most
important subject in school....ART connects everything....ART helps the
child understand everything.... Get the child to appreciate something made
by human hands -things of "beauty" and get them to appreciate so much more
in the world.....But look what is happening to art. Yes, this does "depress"
me when I hear about how your budgets are cut -- and staff is cut - and
programs are dropped.....What can we do to "fix" what has happened so art
really DOES teach the whole child? What can you do with curriculum so ART
really does make that child want to learn? Is pounding more content - more
content - more content really going to do that? Is testing - testing -
testing really going to do that? And Leave No Child Left Behind? Well
cutting art IS leaving a LOT of children behind! Art is the subject that
gets children to appreciate beauty - and now that is NOT important?

For those planning curriculum....Think about it. What have we done that now
makes a middle school (or elementary kid) kid say "I hate art" and want to
disrupt the class?
What makes a high school kid totally shut down and refuse to work?

Remember, Faith Ringgold was told by a drawing instructor she wasn't any
good at drawing....It is great that she got beyond that. But....what about
the elementary child whose drawing was never good enough to put on
display -- or never got any work into the school art show? Now I know most
of you didn't do this this....but I know some art teachers who have. (I had
a lot of "I hate art" kids to undo)

As you plan your curriculum -- determine what it is you want the child to do
most - and that should be to enjoy the art they are making - to find meaning
and purpose to their art. Some kids get observational drawing right
away....some don't.....but continue to let them draw the way THEY see
it....If their way of seeing it is wrong, they may just stop drawing for
you. Yes, students do need to have the experience of looking and drawing -
that is my "science of art" (observation - going slowly - looking for
details -- etc - etc). Drawing is the start of nearly all art projects -
they start with a sketch of an idea. Find some way for the child to feel
success in drawing and many "problems" will be solved. I even had kids who
couldn't see "right" doing a grid drawing - going block to block - one
square at a time.....but I didn't show frustration with them when they
didn't see it the way I did. I would often ask if they wanted me to show
them how I saw it (some would - some wouldn't - didn't matter to me).
Drawing was always only one step in my projects with middle school kids -
and it was never the most important grade. I did the "Drawing on the Right
Side of the Brain" activities too....and yes, most middle school kids could
do the upside down drawing. Some would finish it in class -- those who
didn't get it done, that was a homework assignment - a want to finish thing.

I found that trying to teach what was in the written curriculum was
impossible....when I only had the kids for such a short time....I had bigger
ideas I felt were more important.

Why do we make art? Why do we value art?......and here is what I value in
this art and why....and this is why we are making this art - this is why we
are using this media - this is our purpose -- help them find meaning - go
for the essential understanding. Why do we do it this way or that....Why is
it important to learn about this artist? What did he do that makes us admire
his/her art? What is really important to remember about this artist? or
culture? or art style? The biggest idea was to appreciate art and admire

Maybe all of you who are studying curriculum right now can change what has
been done and put the fun back in learning about art - the quest to learn
back in art (now I know a lot of YOUR classes are fun for kids - I am not
talking about "play time" - I know art is serious time). Patty Knott did
extensive study on Assessment in Art....and in her findings, she couldn't
prove that the programs were meeting their objectives. Art wasn't doing what
it was supposed to do. She will tell you more when she has time (This was a
55 page research paper on Assessment in the Arts).

A note to "Perfectionists" -- be careful -- kids often really don't want it
perfect. There were too many perfectionists in our district.....and the kids
were the ones who suffered. We can make them strive for "excellence" - the b
est to their ability - and let them be proud of that achievement. No ....I'm
not saying all kids are going to get A's and B's in art just if the do the
work. Help them to understand your criteria - what you are looking for as
most important. My kids knew I hated grading their art. They knew that was
the hardest thing for me to do. I had them grade their art themselves
first - and we would look over the grade together.

(LOL at me) Oh what the heck....just click send! Who could possibly still be
reading this now anyway...Get this out of your head Judy Decker....and go do
something else.....Let all of those art teachers all around the world fix
what is wrong with art education....They have the power to do that. I know
so many of you have it right (smile)....and I am soooooo proud of you. Don't
ask me what made me ramble on like just must be because it is
summer....and I do this during the summer (I won't bother you like this
during the school year). So you folks just have to live with it (ha-ha). "OK

Judy Decker.....a think I am
finally done. If any of you can put some kind of order to this - then more
power to you. I have copied and pasted stuff around and I still don't think
I have it I am being satisfied with the "best I could do" right
now to answer the question on "Art Curriculum"..... Now if anyone brings up
art curriculum during the year.... I will have one doosy of an email to send
off list! (along with my curriculum links)....I am starting to even give
myself a head ache.

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: "ArtsEdNet Talk" <>
Sent: Saturday, July 19, 2003 12:01 PM
Subject: Re: Help!!! (Curriculum)

> Kimberly,
> The first thing I would do is go to and see
> your state standards are for your grade level. Then, looking at those,
> the power standards to base your curriculum design on. A power standard
has 3
> criteria: 1)endurance-the knowledge will last long after the class or the
> test is over, 2)leverage-knowledge that is applicable in other areas, and
> 3)essential-knowledge that is needed for the next level of learning. I
guess you can
> tell, i'm taking grad classes in curriculum.... It's as good a place to
> as any, at least whatever you come up with will be in alignment with the
> state. You might also contact the other art teachers in your district and
get their
> input, especially about what they think is essential for the students to
> when they reach their class.