It has been my experience that lessons that are based upon the elements and
principles are the least effective. This is not to say that elements and
principles are not important because they are the foundation of what we
teach, however, I believe that substantial art lessons do not end with the
elements and principles. What we teach is much deeper than that.
One way to approach this is to ask yourself the question that Jerome Bruner
posed in "The Process of Education" (1960), "For any subject taught., we
might ask [is it] worth an adult's knowing, and whether having known it as a
child makes a person a better adult."
With this idea in mind, we might ask "How is knowing about line (or shape or
form or any e/p) worth an adult's knowing? How can knowing about line make a
person a better adult?"
If line or whatever e/p is to be explored in a lesson, why not explore it
from a broader sense? For example, How do artists use line to represent
time, place, etc? How is meaning expressed through line?
A concrete example is found in the work of Hundertwasser who used curved
line as an element of nature. Simply looking at the curved line in his work
is meaningless, but exploring why he used curved lines and how curved lines
represent nature deepens the lesson. This sort of lesson impacts lifelong
learning because the curved line leads the viewer to explore ecology and
global issues that affect us all. It's a way of addressing and solving
I am sure many of you will disagree with my stance, but I hold firm to this
Join us in June 2006 for Paris, Avignon, and the French Riviera
Space is limited --- E-mail this address for details
For art teaching resources, professional development, & travel, visit:
For information about the NAU art education program:
Pamela G. Stephens, PhD
Northern Arizona University
P.O. Box 6020
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6020
928.523.2432 (voice mail) 928.523.3333 (fax)