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Lesson Plans

"stupidity" in Chicago

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Jerry Deasy (jdeasy)
Thu, 25 Jul 1996 20:02:50 -0700

I am not sure this is the place for this letter but I would like to share with whom ever
is willing to read this. This person I am talking about is probably the best reason I
know for why art should be taught in every school in the nation.
I have been teaching art for over thirty years and unfortunately have spent the last
14 at a private girls school in Chicago working for the most incredibly "stupid"
administrator I have ever had the misfortune to meet.
Let me give you some examples of her behavior.
She evaluated a yearbook I designed by finding all the mispelled names of
people in it. The book was totally visual in concept and most people were delighted at
the amount of images contained in the book. The company who took pictures for the school
had a very creative photographer on their staff and I think we used every picture she
took in the book. Many of the layouts very elaborate photomontages which took hours and
hours to put together. I was thrilled at being able to have the art students use their
talents in designing actual pages for a book that would be published. I told some of
them that they could use their pages in their portfolios.
Another gem of a behavior this administrator pulled was to censor several nicely done
pencil drawing my students did. Sh secretly took the works down and put them in her
office because in her words "they did not look happy and she felt parents would
complain." When she did give the drawings back she told the girls they should never do
something like that again. I guess that meant they were never to do anything which
could be judged as based on some other emotion other than happy.
She made a total fool of herself in front of the students on another occassion. The
art classes did decorations for a winter music concert. I had each of the girls design
a four foot tall elf which we cut out and backed with sticks so they would be rigid.
Each of the elves had their own personality and I really pushed the students to use
their imaginations. I guess this was a "happy" project in her eyes and she had the high
school girls line up and show her their projects one by one they way someone might do in
a first grade class.
Then there was the time that my drawing class did a 9 by 7 foot drawing which was based
on a very famous drawing(the name escapes me at the moment) I had the girls use a
modern day them for the events in the drawing. They chose to use the Beatles as their
theme. We had a lot of fun trying to fit different images to the songs. There was a
characture of a woman standing in a doorway which most people found delightful. This
administrator found the image offensive and took a magic marker and tried to blacken out
the image
And I cant forget the time I invited her to look at a four by seven foot painting two
independent art students did to be put in the lunchroom. The theme for the painting was
mythological creatures which I saw nothing wrong with. She told one of the girls that
she was sick and needed psychological help. The girl was in tears when the
administrator left the room.
This past year she managed to push me out of the school by telling the counselors to
drop students from three of the classes I was to teach next year. Then she could say to
me that they could only offer me a two fifths teaching position with no health
I currently am filing a lawsuit against the school and my lawyer thinks I will have a
pretty strong case. I am sorry that I had to get to this stage but as teachers and
artists we have a lot to offer and standing up for what you believe often means standing
alone. I just got to the point where I was sick and tired of art being second to
everything else in the curriculum. I am not a rebel or radical thinker in fact I am
quite conservative as lifestyles go. It seems to be harder and harder to live with such
pathetic "stupid people" knowing that they make educational decisions that will effect
some future students whose parents with good intentions send to this school for a good
education. God forbid is that students happens to have some artistic inclinations.
My personal belief is that art training or visual literacy as I prefer to call it is as
relevant as the three R's in teaching the whole person. It is probably the only time
where a student can be encouraged to look at the world through a different set of eyes
and not take everything for granted.