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Re: Bad language in art- Help needed


From: kimberly herbert (kherbert_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 14 2002 - 18:25:49 PST

       You did the right thing tell the headmistress you were very disturbed
by the words and images and wanted to bring them to the attention of both
her and the parents unchanged. If student drew the type of images you are
describing in an American school today, he/she would be interviewed at least
by a councilor maybe even by the police. Hopefully we have learned our
lessons (at the expense of our children) to pay attention to this type of
call for help.

    You expressed surprise that this type of thing happened in want sounds
like an upper upper middle class/ upper class school. I'm not .I grew up in
the Memorial area of Houston. If you ranked areas of the city by influence
Memorial (New Money) would probably be second behind River Oaks (OLD MONEY).
(There is a teacher on the listserv that mentioned going to a rival high
school and probably could confirm this) I now work in an 100% Title One
school (You really don't get any poorer except maybe on Indian
Reservations). Now according to society's images my classmates in school
should have been all shiny faces and happiness, and my students should be an
abused, neglected group of kids. My students do struggle with many fears -
but their parents care and are involved. When they aren't involved or don't
show up for school meetings, it usually it is because their choice that day
was come to the meeting or keep the job that puts food on the table. Don't
get me wrong it isn't just sunshine and happiness. We do have disturbed
kids, who's parents are not up to the job. I've had my life threatened this

    If I had to say which school had the most abuse and neglect though, I
would say the schools I grew up in. In my elementary school there were only
6 parents (2 were mine). The rest of my school mates went home to these
grand houses, with "adults" that they lived with. The "adults" gave them
plenty of things, bullied or bought the kids way out of any trouble. But
never really cared for them. When I was in high school the local police
chief authorized the arrest of a bunch of kids at a keg party. (Parents
bought the keg, then left the house) Some of the kids were Consul Kids
(diplomatically immune ). He had them taken in also because the other choice
was to let them drive home drunk and kill someone on the road. A group of
parents used this "international incident" as a cover to try and fire him.
The kids passed around a petition, and went to speak at the Hedwick City
Council meeting. On of the kids said something like, "He and our teachers
are the only adults who care, most of the parents only pay attention when we
inconvience them. In my junior year a freshman "BLEW UP A ROOM" in the math
wing with a pipe bomb, because he was getting a B instead of an A. He set
the bomb to go off during his math class, but broken in and hid it shortly
before midnight. It went off at 1:00 am instead. Destroyed the room, and
damaged three others. The principal told my Mom she was the only parent to
call to ask about our safety in school the next day. The rest of the calls
were to complain about the fact the school had the freshman and a senior who
drove him to the school arrested and charged with arson. "Why ruin their
lives if the parents could afford to pay for the damage,".

   Please take a serious look at the disturbing art work, and if it is a
call for help act on it.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen Wood" <>
To: "ArtsEdNet Talk" <>
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2002 3:50 PM
Subject: Bad language in art- Help needed

> It was a simple project. The fair had come to town and had taken over most
> of the streets. This event takes place once a year. For those who were not
> inspired enough by this I suggested designing a ride so scary that nobody
> would want to go on it. We had real ghosts on ghost trains, bungee jumps
> with knives under them dinasour rides etc. This work was mainly coming
> 4 or 5 eight year olds. How could I have expected to raise any eyebrows
> with this project? Read on...
> One child had decided to draw a funfair disaster, the ferris wheel had
> accidently come undone and was rolling down a hill. A person on the ride
> yelling from a speach bubble to the ride opperator "You fu*cking B*stard".
> These children go to a very respectable school, in a very respectable
> Their parents are doctors, therapists, business people ect. Never have I
> come accross a desire for any child to use language like this in their
> I was suprised to say the least. I spoke to the child about this language
> and suggested that he might like to erase it and write something less
> controversial, but he was adamant that the words should stay and he was
> taking the piece home to show his mum. I could have been more forceful,
> that's not who I am.
> Now I'm obviously expecting some sort of backlash. But I felt it wasn't my
> place to intefere with this childs work. It transpired that a friend
> suggested the words which HE uses to stop his parents from arguing.
> My arguemnent is, that art is a means of communication and if this child
> felt so strongly about leaving the words on the page, there maybe
> else he is trying to tell us. To simply rub them out and replace them
> be denying him his right to express himself. I do not advocate swearing in
> our art clubs, I have never experienced it nor do I expect it and verbally
> NEVER allow it.
> I'm struggling to justify my reasons. Someone help me out here. I feel I
> could have handled it better, tried to find other words to do the same
> found out what was going on. I was so taken by suprise I handled it badly.
> What would you have done? It happened at an after school art club. We are
> not teachers at the school. Shall I phone the headmistress tommorow? And
> what?
> Steve
> U.K.
> ---