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Lesson Plans


Re: From granny

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 09:32:41 -0700 (MST)


On Mon, 21 Jul 1997, Bunki Kramer wrote:

> ...although a few did not and quoted all the textbooks that said they
> shouldn't.

Ideas and ideologies never die; they may be lost, but, eventually, most of
them are resurrected. (most frequently in unrecognizable incarnations.
This seems, usually, to be a good thing as new eras bring new perspectives
and most human culture seems to be a matter of elaborations or extentions
on earlier concepts. There is the occasional ultra-conservative attempt
to end change and establish eternal verites as well as the more frequent
resistance to alternatives, growth, new learning, or new perspectives. It
is forgivable because it is an understandable desire. It would be
infinitely easier if we could establish unchangable facts to build on..

Alas, available resolutions or distinctions of significant subtleties
continue to get finer. Novel or radical perspective changes can influence
our ideational world more widely than we can ever imagine. And the human
predisposition to boredom encourages the abandonment of slow but
profitable passages. (Oddly, this last seems especially prevalent in the
sciences.)

> I don't believe everything I read.

I like Alice's desire to believe three impossible things before
breakfast... (WAS that Alice who said that?) But, in that case, it's more
a willingness to accept novel possibilities not subscribe to randomized
dogmas. I do like to go back into old, dated, books and sieve for lost
ideas. Every so often I find neat connections or hook-ups to newer
material that changes all sorts of things. POOF! a whole new world of
possibilities.

For example, In Charles Silberman's 60's tome on "The Crisis in Education"
I came across the belief that computers could not represent a major and
significant event in education because they had no possibility of having
the impact of something like the advent printing, which, for a moment
turned any interested party into a pamphleteer and gave people the
opportunity to discuss things in print around the world... Kinda like the
internet maybe? Print also wrested control over what were rare and
precious texts from the academician allowing students access to
information they might never have encountered before the printing press.
The WWW may be full of innaccurate and "chaotic" information but, often,
so do libraries. It is a part of learning to aquire the ability to discern
relaiable resources. On the web we're still on the "upcurve" of developing
such skills.

Still, in reference to my odd digression on believing what one reads, it
appears necessary to proceed with some aesthetic process (a.k.a.
analysis) :) same thing you know :) After all, the only information that
is not already "obsolete" to some degree is that which we assemble on the
spot, in the moment. But that's personal opinion. Learning is not so much
"collecting" as it is "connecting", perceiving relationships.

> Like drawing, that's just comes with "your" own confidence, awareness and
> experience. The more you do it, the more you find tricks that work, the
> more you find out what works for you and your students...and it takes time
> (and occasional failure) to experiment.

That's the basic nub of the thing, isn't it? That's the "secret" that we
all want ignore, at one time or another, and, instead, to establish
"shortcuts" with formal protocols, recipies, and templated plans.
By replacing intuitive improvisation with formal process we do make
some things much easier. If nothing else it becomes accessable without
practice and (improvisational) skill development. Parallels the case in
Drawing, doesn't it? It is possible to proceed without the skill but there
is an associated cost, or loss.

> Motivation comes from samples and
> different avenues, perspectives and projects zeroing in on the same idea to
> keep students "on track" and eager. Confidence of the students comes from
> showing them diff. "tricks" to make things easier (like using the edges of
> the paper to measure or draw straight lines or find relationships).

I Wish they taught education like that, more often!

> Confidence to try things on their own works well when they have learned the
> basics to carry them further...which is what all this talk is about,
> anyway!

Ok, I agree.

> My biggest "beef" comes from those who say we don't need to learn basic
> drawing or know about the P&E's to understand art and be passionate about
> it. I'll grant that it's not a requirement for the latter but if you were
> passionate about something, wouldn't you want to learn all about it?

Well, yes and no. After all, I know I can't learn everything. Let me begin
here by saying that drawing is a powerful modality and extends itself into
many situations and disciplines. There are many supurb arguments for
learning to draw. Still, despite its significance and value, I'm not ready
to mandate it for one and all. Maybe, given optimum circumstances and
ideal instructors, but not in the real world where altogether too many
things are done solely because they were supposed to be done and without
much real care or respect.

The key, as you say, Bunki, seems to be motivation/passion. As long as a
student is motivated to draw (and so to learn to draw) teaching the
process is viable and of extreme value in so mmany dimensions. Where
learning to draw becomes a chore worthy of avoidance something in the mix
is "wrong" and there is as much to be lost in proceeding as there is to
gain. Better to dispense with it in that case. Don't lose the passion.

The trouble is that we continue to teach "classes" more than we teach
individual students. Everyone gets the "innoculation" and teachers
generally don't worry about "allergies". To extend that metaphor,
sometimes the allergy is not to the prescribed medication, but to the
carrier it is imbedded in. In terms of a classroom, that might be an
interaction with the instructor or it might reflect the students being
inadequately developed for the level of instruction. Giving an infant
medication and dosages appropriate to a 7 year old is not recommended
practice. Teacher KNOW your students!

> And wouldn't your observations become more keen if you had an arsenal of
> information about what to look for in an artpiece...why it "works"...and
> had firsthand knowledge about the techniques and skills? You bet your
> booty!

Absolutely! But, over the years, I've been in too many classes with
students who are as unmotivated to really study the processes of education
and teaching and just want their certification and degree so that they can
get on with their professional lives as teachers. Generally these are the
kids who perceive college as a simple extension of high school... just
another required rite of passage into the adult world to be gotten through
as quickly as possible.

Teachers with little or no interest in drawing (and there are some) seem
likely to resort to cookbook recipies and exercises. In a real classroom
motivation and passion are all too often crushed in the effort to fit the
student to the bedrock of the class and curriculum. Been there. Had that
done to me.

> The beauty of the "human quality" (and what makes us diff. from the rest of
> the animal kingdom) is that it doesn't have to be just one way or the
> other....it's both!...but not at the expense of one over the other. In my
> humble opinion, both are necessary, both advantagous to the learner AND the
> teacher who's teaching it.

Agreed; again, the potential is there.

> I know this subject matter has been pounded into the earth by our listserv
> but, as a teacher, I feel so totally committed to this ideal. If I can
> convert at least one dear soul, I'll feel I've accomplished one goal in my
> teaching.

Incompetence is inescapable. By definition, 50% of all graduates in any
field graduate in the bottom half of their class. Some deserve it, some,
no doubt, are there because they got more than their share of poorly
prepared instructors from the bottoms of their classes! Hopefully some
change direction and find a new field where they are more sucessful.

It would be nice if a curriculum could make up for the inadequacies of
some of its well meaning teachers. Obviously, my faith is weak here. I
don't have a good, practical answer. (I'd love to have a way of assuring
the compatibility of teachers and stuents, students and classmates
though.) We'd go a long way though if, as is done in special ed., we
prepared an Individual Learning Plan for every student. At least then
there might be closer scrutiny by more people as to what might be
appropriate to a given student at a given time. It seems impractical at
the moment, but if the interest is in the education of individual
students; they are graded that way after all; then we need to find a way
of doing it. That, or the admission that in general we are teaching at a
classroom level and assign grades to the class as a whole. There is a
discrepency in teaching classes and grading individuals practical though
it might be.

enough

-henry