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RE: HS Art Teachers- course selections


From: Patricia Knott (pknott_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Mar 05 2003 - 20:52:41 PST

I want to thank all who responded to my query about high course course
selections. I'm going to try to respond in one message.

You cause me to feel not so alone or that it is something I am doing
wrong (which of course, is the first thought--what do I have to do?)
I think there are a lot of factors and scheduling is probably primary. I
know, at my school there
is little room for electives with more and more required courses being
added. Also, kids are are very aware of "weighted" courses and how that
affects their GPA and they don't want to take a chance of a grade in a
non-weighted course. We have tried to resolve that problem but it won't take
affect for a few years.

>> The other frustrating thing with kids in our building is that
>> some stew over what classes they'll take and put off signing up or take a
>> study hall with plans to drop it once they see what classes their friends
>> got (duh) and so affect our true counts and we loose sections across the
>> board-they just don't get that piece. In a sizable school, a couple dozen
>> kids doing this can affect your signups.

I see this a lot. We give "privileges" to the seniors. If they have a
first or last period study hall they don't have to be in school. So they
fiddled with their electives to achieve this. And if they don't need the
credit, they opt for the study hall and then I loose a kid.

>> If we go back to Art I, II, III etc I think we will kill the
>> program. If we even have an Art fundamentals prereq, it would be very hard to
>> schedule many kids. .
>> our
>> students are required to take Art Fundamentals before they can take any
>> other art classes such as ceramics, photography, painting, etc.

We have a prereq. too but only for the fine art sequence. It's a deterrent
for the upper class kids who don't want to be in a section that is mostly
9th graders. I don't want to interrupt the sequence but I also want those
kids. I will override the requirement, but most often they don't seek me out
for that choice and I just don't know.

   I'd like to hear some more thoughts about these two comments

> I'm sure that having a rigorous, standards-based program has taken some of
> the fun out of art for the kids, because its not nearly as much fun for me
> to teach.

> We work with the standards here and it seems the students think everything is
> hard. Attitudes change over time and kids today are somewhat lazier than in
> past years but I still have my core of good workers and over achievers to keep
> me going. You have brought up a good question however about the standards
> making art to rigid and not being fun again.

First of all, I don't want to equate "fun" with a less than legitimate
learning situation. I don't think fun and learning are mutually exclusive.
But I think some of us feel that we are pressured to include assessable
elements to our lessons that may not be so fun. We have to weigh time spent
on art appreciation against time spent on hands on. I think we all know
that the kids come into our rooms wanting to put hands on and the other
stuff sometimes becomes an imposition. We have to be very crafty as to how
we sneak that stuff in and again measure the time against the time the kids
need to put their hands on. My kids come into the room eager to put their
hands on and if I interrupt to present something else, they are put
off...... because god knows these kids need to put their hands on something
else besides a remote control button, which is about the most their fingers
get to do. All that other stuff the standards ask is not why they are in
our rooms. Art is different. It has always been different. There is nothing
standard about it and I truly think our job is to find ways to ask our
students to question what is standard. I rely on those historic artists
that asked those questions and I use those artists to inform my budding
artists, but I won't fall into any bugglegum for the brain stuff that I see
much of the Standards to be about.
Who wrote these standards anyhow? And for those of you who have not really
looked at the standards, only one is about making art. So where does that
leave our programs?

> I don't think that we, as art teachers, can just "teach our classes". I
> think that in order to survive and be successful, we have to do a whole
> lot more.

Yeah, we have to always be defending and legitimizing what we do. DBAE and
the Standards are attempts to make what we do "real" yet we seem to always
have to go the extra measure. Look at how many are in fear that art will be
cut or how many have already been cut? With all the agencies and papers of
advocacy it's not getting any better... so how much more do we do?