I don't disagree with you at all. I would just start with meaning first and
then at some point study the use of the elements within the lesson as a related
I always liked Edmund Burke Feldman's approach that he elaborated upon in his
book, Varieties of Visual Experience. I remember he divided up his book by
themes and purposes of art.
I also believe I look at art education as worthwhile from an immediate point of
view. How can art making help this child in the here and now, rather than what
it can do for students in the future.
So a lesson on How I am Special for Kindergarten children could help students
discover how art is a place to explore ideas and feelings that help them in the
here and now. Having this experience in their present life will help them
integrate and grow and develop in the moment so they can develop organically.
Children are human beings when they are growing up and they need help dealing
with their immediate ideas, and feelings. As they deal with their immediate
ideas and feelings in the moment, they develop skills, abilities, cognitive
structures to handle life as they mature and develop. Gradually children
unfold and naturely develop to handle the challenges of life in this way. If
they have art experiences throughout their life that they find meaningful and
personnally fulfilling, then art will be a way for them to express themselves
and to discover the world throughout their lives.
Focusing on sequential concepts within a discipline without placing these
concepts within a particular context, makes the subject matter devoid of
meaning. It is like learning skills without knowing what good it is to know
the skill. It is like saying if you know these skills, one day you can do
something more meaningful, but for right now you have to take your medicine. I
believe meaning and concepts can and should be integrated. Jerome Bruner did
not give much credance to the emotional, physical, social, and artistic needs
of children. He focused mainly on sequential concepts within a specific
discipline. A very narrow approach which, in my opinion, has led to an
unhealthy seperation of the intellect with other parts of human experience.
The emphasis on rationality has led a whole generation down a path in which
people find no meaning in life. Hence we have all kinds of psychological
problems which leads to all kinds of other problems.
What do others think?
Dr. Diane C. Gregory
Director, Undergraduate & Graduate
Studies in Art Education
Texas Woman's University
Denton, TX 76204
Quoting Pam <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> 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
> ecological issues.
> 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
> Art Education
> P.O. Box 6020
> Flagstaff, AZ 86011-6020
> 928.523.2432 (voice mail) 928.523.3333 (fax)
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