It has been said, you have to know where you?ve been
to know where you?re going. This is a very
interesting topic of discussion. So here is my point
of view and what I do in my classrooms.
I am a firm believer in teaching art history. As a
BFA student I was required to take 6 different art
history classes. As a high school photography teacher
I have implemented the program ?Photographer of the
Week? in my photography classes. Every week on
Fridays I give a 10 ?20 minute lecture on a different
photographer. The cross curriculum implications are
great as you can imagine. History, social science,
science and current events are just a few topics that
arise from these lectures. Concepts of design,
composition, context and moral issues of the times
also come up. Gordon Parks is discussed during Black
History Month. And how the students love the stories
about personal issues of irony and adversity that
these people had to deal with.
I have a major project that students work on during
the entire second semester. ?Photographic History of
the 20th Century? is an ongoing project where students
get to ultimately pick and research a photographer of
their own choice and interest (within limited
constraints). They explore in detail their chosen
photographer. This project relies heavily on the
Internet. So not only are they students learning art
(photo) history but gaining experience and skills in
technology and keyboard skills. The last part of the
project is a very interesting one, that of
reflections. Students have to respond to six prompts
describing what they learned and how they learned.
Since I received my MA in Learning, Teaching and
Curriculum, I find this final part of the project most
Imagery of different times and styles depicting
personal vision can be a real eye opener for students.
It can serve as a muse, as a stepping stone to
discover their own personal style and vision.
Students of art have been influenced since the
renaissance when appreciates learned from Masters.
The same has been true of photography we assistants
have worked for photographers before they set off on
their own. Students need to be aware of what?s out
there. Keep in mind they are students. They are here
to learn. Constructivist theory of learning is well
and fine, but an aspect of this theory is scaffolding,
learning based on prior knowledge and experience. How
can this take place if there is severely limited prior
knowledge due tot he fact that a student doesn?t want
to know about what?s been done by others.
Art history is an invaluable part of the process of
learning judgment and perception of what art is. It
is meant to expand and enhance the mind, not constrict
it by have students copy what?s already been done.
Just look at the national standards of art education
and it is obvious that art history plays an important
This conversation could go on and on, so many points
of view. Like they say opinions are like belly
buttons. Everyone has one.