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[teacherartexchange] Finding meaning/questioning strategies


From: Pam (pgstephens_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Jul 19 2005 - 12:57:18 PDT


I think that you and I are on the same page in regards to finding meaning in
works of art as opposed to simply looking at and learning the elements and
principles. While my approach embraces long-term results, I also see the
necessity of making art learning in the here and now. My point in the
earlier post was simply my opinion that what happens in art classes should
go beyond the elements and principles. While these are the foundations of
our field, they are not the end product.

Too often I see teachers who fail to take their students beyond what Eisner
calls the null curriculum. And generally the lessons I see that fit this
null curriculum are those that stop with the elements and principles. In a
much simplified nutshell, if a lesson can be evaluated with a check list
(e.g., student uses a variety of line), then it seems to me that no depth of
learning has occurred. It's the how and why questions that I find important;
the sorts of questions that have a Velcro effect where prior knowledge
provides the loops for the hooks of future knowledge; that lasts through
life. For this reason, I keep Bruner's quote close at hand to remind me that
each and every lesson should have short-term and long-term impact. \

Now this leads me to a discussion that I hope others on the list will pick
up. A few years ago I was fortunate to travel to Chicago and take part in
the Great Books Foundation Shared Inquiry training. This, without a doubt,
is the best training for learning to question and to lead discussions about
literature (and readily applicable to works of art). The training provides
methods for engaging students in thoughtful exploration to find meaning. One
of the points made in the training is the avoidance of generic questions;
that is, those questions that can be applied to any work of art. The
question of "How does it make you feel" would be an example of a generic
question because it could be applied to any and all works of art and does
not get to meaning.

I am wondering if anyone else on the list has taken this training and if
so, how it has changed your approach to engaging students in meaningful
investigations of works of art. I would also be interested in the types of
questions you ask your students.

And for those of you who would like to look into Shared Inquiry, here is a
short tutorial:


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