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Re: Is art education dead?

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From: Esa Tipton (tmtartseducation_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Jun 10 2002 - 14:05:44 PDT


As part of a community service project I am doing, I
spent the day at the Czech Senate as a participant in
a series of educational seminars to improve both the
business sector and accountability in it. I'm helping
the collaborating ngo's find funding for the project
and I was there to liasion with the press. What struck
me about the dialogue between presenters and audience
is the way in which europeans discuss a topic from
sometimes simultaneously contradictory points of view.
Perhaps given the way of the recent dialogue, we could
call it a 'constructivist" approach to debate. Yet in
reading some of the dialogue on the list, it seems to
me that people keep trying to take a topic to one
particular point of view and argue for or against it.
I prefer the multiplicity of contrariness that doesn't
seek an answer, only to discuss varying aspects of a
topic from diverse points of view. From this, some
kind of synthesis inbetween all points of view is
hopefully found.

In discussing what are the implications of
constructivism for teaching and learning, to me,
doesn't mean that we don't examine or improve the big
W's of learning. My recent point was aimed more at the
overemphasized, overfixated emphasis our systems place
on figuring SLO's out as justifications for what we
can and cannot do in the classroom. We are so used to
this approach and our methods within it, that to open
up the parameters seems like chaos or death to the
known or both.

Peggy writes: " It seems to me that a point of
engagement is necessary in the form of a basic
assignment with basic expectations. Without this, some
kids will drift away, having little internal structure
to keep them involved."

To me, the point of engagement has to originate within
the student, and no longer from within the teacher to
the student. I believe that the real issue is the
point of origin and the trajectory for this aspect of
learning. Teacher-designed or student-designed
assignment? Teacher-directed or student-initiated
assignment? Take out the chewed up little blocks of
learning units called classes and open up learning to
a larger self-directed process, and I think our
classrooms and schools would look very different. Does
it mean that learning wouldn't take place? Learning
would be more the responsibility of the learner.

I think it takes leadership within teachers,
administrators, and school boards to initiate such
changes. But if we are going to take our students to a
new future, we need a new way of teaching and learning
now. I was always a boundary breaker in school systems
so I'm not one to talk about how the box of the public
schools limits all of us in this endeavor. I know it
well and I agree with all of the comments about what
is not possible in some of your classrooms/systems. I
think public school teachers are truely heroic
altruists! At the same time, I think we have to see
ourselves as change agents and make some of these
things possible by what we say and do in schools. But
most public schools to me seem like places where the
soul is killed in the process of teaching students to
learn, so why perpetuate it?

I like to think that what is dead in our educational
systems and our approaches is just compost for new
growth.
Teresa

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