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Lesson Plans


[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 16:18:34 -0500 (CDT)

Amy, you asked for ideas for a unit on "culture" and have received some
terrific feedback. I don't know if you can use any more, but here goes...
In my fourth grade introduction to art history, we define "culture" as
everything about a society - where they live, what they eat, their clothing
(or lack of it), their language, food, etc. We note that culture changes
with time and/or location and that those societies at the crossroads of
social interaction change and grow far more swiftly than isolated groups.
We discuss the differences between the culture of Sycamore School and other
schools and try to define the various cultures to which we each belong: our
school, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our religious
group, our ethnic group, etc. After you have thoroughly defined and
discussed the term in class - whatever your definition or description is -
you might try the following: (this could be done in a small group, as a
class, or individually) Create an imaginary culture. Describe it as
thoroughly as possible: its history, environment, religious or spiritual
beliefs, technology, language, etc. The more detailed the "culture" is, the
better. (Students should be encouraged to keep it fairly simple, as even a
"simple" culture will require a great deal of information.) This could even
be an alien culture from a far planet with a totally different physical
appearance, environment, etc. In fact, for purposes of this exercise, this
IMAGINARY CULTURE. Students could do anything that made sense in the
cultural context. If they wanted to use acrylics, for example, they would
have to show that their culture had the materials and technology for such a
medium. If they predicate a very primitive culture, they will have to use
only primitive materials. They will have to discuss standards of beauty,
or, indeed, whether their culture even recognizes the concept. (Some
cultures don't.) They could not draw cars if their society had never seen an
automobile. This exercise would not have to be limited to visual arts -
students could create music, literature, drama, dance, whatever...Or, since
this is a class of advertising art students, you could have them imagine
trying to sell a given commodity to the culture and plan a campaign or ad
calculated to appeal to the mythical group. Obviously, they would have to
be aware of societal taboos, positive imagery, etc. Hopefully, working "from
the ground up" as it were, will help students appreciate the impact of
culture on everything we do as well as the complexity of our own culture.
Another possibility would be one I described earlier, where different groups
create imaginary cultures, create artifacts appropriate to these cultures,
then bury fragments of those artifacts in boxes of sand. Exchange boxes and
see how well each group can reconstruct the "culture" it received.
Hope this is helpful.

Eileen Prince
Sycamore School