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Lesson Plans

Re: Democracy, art, schools and gangs

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Rosa Juliusdottir (rojul)
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 08:10:51 GMT

Hi Teresa. I just want to tell you how I think your answer is the first one
in this discussion that I agree fully with. Banning things is not going to
make them go away. We must cure the cause of the illness. You said:
>I believe in the power of the arts to transform the individual.> That is
>what we should try.
But I like your whole answer. Hope sincerely you donīt loose that 5th
grader. Regards from the far north, Rosa

>Disagreements are the fodder of growth; cognitive dissonance is essential
>for learning, so why stifle it?
>This discussion is really important and I think more needs to be said. I
>am losing a fifth grader who is one of the best artists in school to a
>gang and I have gone through all the emotions and words and efforts to try
>and bring him back by using his art as a lever.
>I said before that I found something missing and I still feel that in the
>discussion. It's one thing to remove graffiti and to set limits, rules and
>standards of conduct. I see that as our responsibility as adults guiding
>young people who are still developmentally growing. At the same time, I
>find some of the posts to be polarized against the use of the symbols
>because of tagging, missing a wonderful learning opportunity to try and
>transform both the meaning of the symbol employed and its relevance to its
>I myself "ban" smiley faces and corner suns with sunglasses because of
>their overuse. I challenge students to look beyond the cliche and
>represent what the symbol stands for some other way. If a gang member
>identifies with the yin yang symbol then my approach would be to have the
>student in their art show what aspects of the symbol they identify with.
>Query how the student can represent aspects of themselves some other way.
>Get them to look at what the symbol represents; how it's been used
>culturally; what it means personally and to draw that without using the
>symbol , if in fact it is banned from class.
>I want to make the distinction between erasing an image because it is in
>an inappropriate place or it is used inappropriately and discounting those
>who use it or who have identified with it.
>We only polarize the behavior and the impetus when we ban these things
>without QUERY, DISCUSSION, CHALLENGE, and most of all, confrontration with
>those souls who have identified themselves with something that we may not
>We may find gang behavior distasteful and abhorrent but it has a
>legitimacy as an expression of disenfranchisement. It exists because of
>cultural and social issues we have not faced in our society.
>We cannot make it go away by erasing its symbols. But we neglect our role
>as educators if all we do is erase and ban images without trying to delve
>into their more significant meansings and aspects. We have an opportunity
>to reach out to those kids who use the symbols and help them make real
>linkages between the meaning of the symbols and their lives beyond
>tagging. After all, each of is "tagging" everyday - my car, my home, my
>wallet, my purse, my money, my space....Tagging is a part of repitilian
>brain behavior and let's be honest folks - all of us have repitilian parts
>to our brains.
>I believe in the power of the arts to transform the individual. I think of
>the Living Stage Theatre company in D.C. that goes into the inner city
>with Shakespeare and teaches gang members how to act by using the material
>from their lives. They don't say, oh these kids are gang members and I
>won't work with them because they are inappropriate. We're not going to
>let you do props because you use or wear gang symbols...
>They use ALL of that as the material of the arts and we need to find a way
>to bring their material into the content of our art classes.
>Teresa Tipton
>On Tue, 3 Jun 1997, Stenger - Judith DiSalvo wrote:
>> Fred, Bob, and other friends,
>> I suspect that we agree on more than we disagree--maybe our
>> differences are mostly semantic. Perhaps we teach differing age groups,
>> and thus have differing points of focus. Somehow, when we re worried
>> about
>> children still being alive tomorrow, it doesn't make a lot of sense to
>> countenance pictures or symbols reflecting violence and drugs. I'm not
>> accusing anyone of having said that's ok, I'm just saying that adults have
>> the responsibility to set the limits--kids' job is to try to stretch them.
>> We have to recognize that adolescents will always need something to
>> struggle against. We must draw the parameters.
>> Judy
>> On Mon, 2 Jun 1997 EVasso wrote:
>> > Bob,
>> >
>> > Thank you for your response:
>> >
>> > <<Perhaps democracy was not the best choice of words for the natural
>> > of effective human relations which your decribed when you said,
>>"learning is
>> > about teachers and students constructing and reconstructing knowledge
>> > together." This is a given and speaks of basic respect for each other in
>> > the learning process.. You speak of a process which can be found
>> > through the gamet of learning environments. It has little to do with
>> > democracy.>>
>> >
>> > I don't agree. I do not believe that the notion of an (art) curriculum
>> > arises from students and teachers constructing and reconstructing knowledge
>> > together is either "natural" or "can be found distributed..."
>> >
>> > You yourself described a different kind of classroom: "..but please don't
>> > suggest," you said, "that the quality of art instruction and
>> > the educational expectations that I have for each of my students should be
>> > eroded or compromised..."
>> >
>> > I compromise over educational expectations all the time. I make
>> > with administration, with students who come from abusive homes,
>>students who
>> > struggle with concepts or skills, with parents who make unfair demands
>>or who
>> > aren't demanding enough, who are too protective of their kids or not
>> > protective enough. I make compromises over where I was planning to take the
>> > class,conceptually, because a child came up with something else, maybe a
>> > place more interesting to them, or to me. I negotiate, give a little,
>> > a little, work, push, retreat and sometimes advance. And, dictionary
>> > definitions not withstanding, that is a part of democracy. Teacher as
>> > gatekeeper is not.
>> >
>> > And with henry's story in mind, I'll just keep on chewing on this bone. I
>> > ain't pissin' on it.
>> >
>> > -Fred
>> > Chicago
>> >
>> >
>> >