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Lesson Plans

WHAT'S WRONG WITH ART ED? long reply....

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Bunki Kramer (
Sat, 17 Jul 1999 11:53:14 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, said....

>"The arts, the visual arts in this case, are a unique career choice. One
>is educated in many ways to achieve a unique perspective and understanding
>of the world to be expressed in unique and personal ways --sometimes even
>to the point of making a cult of novelty-- and then thrown into something
>called the marketplace where, in order to earn a living, they must conform
>to market demands. I can't think of another career where one is educated
>to be divergent and creative and then most frequently expected to perform
>in a convergent and work-for-hire environment."

You can't? Really? I sure can. The large drive in Callifornia (and I expect
many other states) to bring in divergent, creative thinking in all areas
included in the "core" subjects has been a force pushed by educational
reforms and the state in the past ten years. This becomes amusing...for
lack of a better word...when the state then tells you your students and
school will be rated on how well you pass the SAT9 state testing where all
you have to do is spit back the uncreative answers to a formula question.
Guess what? Someday soon the arts will be tested like this as well. Then
we'll be up there with the core subjects but we'll also be required to
teach art differently in order to...pass the test. Talk about "opening a
can of worms"!

I'm specifically thinking at this point about a core subject like math.
Although there's this giant push to do creative problem solving and
thinking in different modes to arrive at an answer (i.e. Renaissance math),
the problem is there's little time to waste (?) because so much material
HAS to be covered in order to pass the classroom test as well as the state
testing. Here lies the problem of creativity vs the formula. The kids HAVE
to know all the material before they can "go on". There's no creative
thinking to the either know the answer or you don't. Testing
doesn't care if you're a creative whiz who might one day discover new
formulas, it just wants to know you can regurgatate the right answer. see...the core subjects have the same problem as we. They have to
be prepared to accept the hiring/buying community just like we do and, at
the same time, try to teach divergent thinking. It's just that their hands
are tied more than ours and the requirements more stringent. We can be as
creative as we want but if we want to make $$$, we have to bend to the
buying public as well.

Another point I'd like to make, IMHO creativity has to be seen as personal
just for the simple fact it is CREATIVITY. What you might think is
creative, I might not consider creative but run-of-the-mill...and vice
versa. It's because we're two diff. indivduals with diff. tastes and diff.
educational experiences and all the baggage that ensues. When looking at an
artwork, what we CAN probably agree on is the level of technique, skill and
use of P&E's and even that can be iffy. We won't make the difference,
though. The person with the most $$$ will decide and hopefully THAT person
who buys will have some knowledge of the same level of judgement that we
agree on. We need to teach these skills in order for the $$$ person to make
good judgements. my humble opinion...creativity is difficult at best to teach. I
can provide opportunities and talk about it, but how do I actually "do" it
with my kids without inflicting my own personal agenda? I CAN teach them
the best way, or what I think is the best way, to hold a brush, see
relationships, show balance, discuss others' techniques. To me its a
question without an answer.

Sooooo...the question that was asked..."What wrong with art education?"
will, I think, become MORE of a question if/when we become more
core-accepted and tested. Brings on a whole new bag of bones, doesn't it?

Bunki Kramer - Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Rd., Danville, California 94526

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