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Re: How to handle nudity in projects - Thanks Arthur


From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Jul 20 2003 - 12:48:42 PDT

       ----- Original Message -----
       From: Arthur Bell
       I hope it doesn't happen to me, but I'm looking at worst case
       scenario. I'm a new photo teacher with middle schoolers. I'm
       more on photojournalism, but part of the lessons will be
       and maybe fashion. If the kids do research at the library and the
       parents see nudity in some of the books, how do I handle the
       principal or irate parents if they complain. <snip>

Judy Decker wrote:
> I would write a letter to parents explaining the assignment - explaining what they might find in the library books and get them to
> understand first and talk about it with their children.
> Have them sign a permission slip just like they do to use the Internet (and yes, just like they do for Sex education). That way, what
> they find in the books isn't "your fault".

I have another take on this issue. Since Arthur is simply assigning a
research project to be done in the library or computer lab, he is NOT
responsible for what the students may find. If a parent complains,
well, Arthur didn't put the book in the library, nor set up the Web
site. Do the other teachers in the school "warn" parents first about
what the students may find during research? Does the librarian? The
students are probably very aware of what they can find on the Internet
if they want to. I would just make sure I'm circulating among the
students and monitoring what they are doing--which a good teacher will
do anyway.

In my HS art history class, in which the students would be exposed to
nudity in the text and in the slides, I always talked about it the very
first day--why there was nudity, why it wasn't anything to get upset or
excited about. In all those years, I NEVER had so much as a
giggle--even from freshman boys--the first time I showed a slide with a
nude. If there ever was a group of boys gawking together over an image
in the book, it was invariably at the Goya painting of Saturn Eating His
Children--good gory stuff. I also never had a complaint from a student
or a parent. I think the students appreciated being treated like mature
young adults who could handle the subject matter.

In my studio classes, it was easy enough to show images without nudity.
Of course, when it came time to do research, they would invariably find
some, but again, monitoring what they were doing avoided problems. If
they seemed preoccupied with an image that had nudity, I just discussed
it with them matter-of-factly with regard to the research project. I
didn't say anything about the nudity, or "how do you feel about this,"
or anything of that sort. I just treated it like any other image.