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[teacherartexchange] More finding meaning


From: Pam (pgstephens_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Jul 20 2005 - 06:59:42 PDT

>>Now, I do tesselations with 4th grade, because some of the
tested standards are rotation, translation, and (summer brain dead here -
there is another math vocabulary word here).<<

Reflection is the word you are seeking.

This brings up a good point and thus brings us back to finding meaning in
works of art. Last year I was asked to deliver a talk at the Flagstaff
Mayor's Breakfast (a gathering of school and district administrators as well
as the state superintendent of schools). I was asked to address the reasons
that art should be included in every curriculum. As a proponent of art in
the curriculum, it was assumed that I would give reasons for art supporting
other content areas. That didn't happen; nonetheless, the talk was well
received and I have sense developed it into a Power Point presentation on
advocacy that has been presented in several venues around the country.

I've posted my entire talk before, so I won't post the entire thing again,
but I'll give a few paragraphs of what was said:


...Like all good art - whether old or new - cave paintings offer up many
questions to consider. They cause us to think in divergent, but logical ways
to find the answers to the questions that they pose.

Art, in whatever form, makes us think. And doesn't good thinking support
quality education?

The visual arts, when taught correctly and appropriately, develop deep

If we look at the Profile of College-Bound Seniors compiled by the College
Board in 2002, we find that in 2002 those students who scored the best on
SAT verbal and mathematics assessments were those students whose coursework
in high school included the arts.

This probably seems like a good argument for keeping the arts in the
curriculum-to include the arts as support for the so-called core curriculum.
But I am not saying that at all. I will never offer that argument.

The visual arts are a worthy course of study within and of themselves. There
is no reason that the visual arts should be included as a support system or
the handmaiden to any other content area.

Let me make one thing absolutely clear. There are significant links between
and among the arts and other content areas and I am a tremendous proponent
of teaching through the arts to make meaningful connections. To give kids
the "ah ha" that is often missing in isolated studies.

If what I have said sounds contradictory-that I promote the teaching of
interdisciplinary connections, but I do not promote the concept of the arts
as a support system, give me a moment to explain. There is a world of
difference between teaching THROUGH the arts and USING the arts.

Consider this:

Research shows us that kids who are taught to question and to support their
answers with reasoned responses are the kids who do better in the studies
across the curriculum. These are the kids who stay in school.

Learning to questions and respond with reasoned and supported answers is
what the visual arts are about....


I think that it is of vital importance that art educations keep art central
to learning and that centrality translates to finding meaning in works of
art. It is perfectly acceptable to teach through Escher's tessellations (or
any other work of art) if students are asked to seek meaning. When the
artwork becomes nothing but a support system wherein students count the
trees in a landscape or figure out the type of cloud in the sky, that is
using a work of art.

From Sedona,


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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