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Lesson Plans

RE: artist as teacher

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Bryan P. Bohn (jinx)
Wed, 14 Jul 1999 13:19:35 -0400

>I would like to comment on the idea of copying from a dead artist.
>as an art educator we want to expose our students to the history of art
>the significance that it has made on the artists if today. I believe that
>many so called "Modern" artists today owe alot to the pioneers of the
>art movements that paved the way for the expansive type of expression in
>todays art world. So why not use the great art movents that will inspire
>these kids and make them want to be creative on their own.

In the context of "reality" this is a problem for many contemporary artists
as well, though. As someone pointed out, everything's been done already
and nothing's new and contemporary artists are constantly compared to the
past. I believe that in some strange way, children have in inate
understanding of this notion and it breeds a certain way of thinking. For
instance, picking up a gun and robbing someone - is it an act of mime or of
creative problem solving? Much of what children do is copied from their
peers and role models. Does anyone out there involve children (again, I am
an administrator not an educator), especially K-5, in the critique process,
personal and group, to absolve the children of their copying tendencies and
to stress personal problem solving?

Playing devil's advocate here, on the other hand I agree with the notion of
introducing great artists to students to develop appreciation. From what
I've seen of Baltimore's arts ed programs, they are forced by their
understaffed nature to stress concentration on the gifted and talented,
those who have the ability to create. Those who do not necessarily have
the ability to create (at least at that point in their development) are
left out and appreciation is not fostered. Hence, developing some forms of
contempt for the arts that hinders their ability to enjoy them as even an
audience member in later years.

I helped develop a program and proposal for a local puppet theater company
here in Baltimore. This particular company actually concentrates on
puppetry for aduly audiences, as a "serious" strain of theater, and this
foray into the educational system that I helped with actually came from a
program that they had marketed to corporations to develop team work. It
led children through the script writing and character development process,
designing and constructing puppets, props, and sets, developing the
logistics of the performance, and actually putting on the performance at
program's end for their peers and parents. All of this was done while
teaching the children basic mechanical physics through puppetry but team
building, leadership, craft, and creative problem solving were all stressed
as well. This project was a joint venture with the puppet theater company
and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in that engineers from the
latter would participate in the team building, leadership, and creative
problem solving aspects and also act as role models for these inner city
children. This example is one, IMHO, that "levelled" the playing field in
most respects in terms of artistic ability (very few kids make puppets) and
gave them all a chance to shine in the arts.