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Lesson Plans

What's Worth teaching in Art? (A Reply to Bob)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
craig roland (rol1851.EDU)
Tue, 14 Jul 1998 00:08:32 -0400

I've read through Bob Fromme's thoughtful and lengthy response to my
questions several times and thought it raises several interesting questions
in itself. To avoid a lengthy reply, however, I will respond to only a
portion of his statement (although I feel it must be read in total to fully
appreciate his position).

In response to the question "How do you determine what to teach in your
classroom?" Bob wrote:

>This will vary for some of us who are asked to teach different courses in
>different semesters. On the high school and college level much of the
>content is determined by the course name, such as Art I, Drawing II,
>Computer Art II etc....Each
>teacher has freedom to vary the lesson content and projects but we are
>somewhat tied together by using the same text and choosing many of the same
>projects. The Art I course is intended to include a balanced regime of art
>history, art criticism, aesthetics with art production. All of the other
>courses on the II, levels (Drawing II,III and IV, Painting II III and IV,
>Sculpture II III and IV, Computer Art II III and IV) have more specialized
>content. . .snip...

I'm curious, Bob, whether you consider this typical way of dividing the art
curriculum at the high school and college levels to be outdated (given the
nature of contemporary art practices today and--as you pointed out--the
problem of "disjoin[ing] the big picture into factored bits of know-how. .
."). Don't these "traditional" course divisions (Drawing I, II, Painting
I, II, etc.,) tend to promote "traditional" ways of thinking about art and
the content that might be taught in art classes? Where are the
opportunities for students to engage in "intermedia" or "interdisciplinary"
explorations? Are students being presented alternative models of
art-making involving collaboration or "team" approaches in these classes
you speak of? Are they learning how art can affect positive change in
their community? Or, are they being taught that art is something that is
"hung on a wall" and made by an individual artist working alone in his/her

My reason for raising this issue is not to "raise the hair on your neck" (I
know you have pretty thick skin ;7). Its to get at an issue you raise in
the latter portion of your posting about preparing kids for the future:

>...I think art education's
>contribution to our new global culture will involve the creative process as
>a critical tool for future survival for in our future citizens must be able
>to visualize and work from intuition. Art education can also help our
>future citizens learn to work as a member in a group effort, embracing
>diversity and being tolerant of cultural variety. Art education can give
>our future citizens of the age of information some valuable working
>experience with adaptation which will allow them to thrive productively in a
>working environment of change beyond anything we can currently imagine...

Will our students gain the kinds of skills and knowledge you speak of here
by drawing pictures of still lifes or sculpting heads/figures from clay? I
may be off base here and misinterpreting your statement. I actually agree
with much of what you said. But, it seems to me its time to drastically
rethink what we are teaching kids in schools about art (and about its role
in our global society).

I think I'll leave it there...although there much more to say. Perhaps
others will jump in?


CRAIG ROLAND. Associate Professor-Art Education.
Department of Art, FAC 302, University of Florida, Gainesville Florida.
32611-5801. (352) 392-9165 - Art Ed Office (352) 392-8453 - Fax
new email address: rolandc