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Re: "fixing" art education


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Mar 16 2003 - 06:52:32 PST

>I don't like the idea of existing only to deliver content that supports
> "the important" (in other words, the tested) subjects. Why is it wrong
> to focus on skills that will help students visually communicate?

I like the comment earlier here in the listserv that spoke of how we have
placed so much emphasis on the "No child...." in the left behind talk to
forget about the "Whole child" Certainly a t-shirt slogan ought to be made
with that contemplative muse.

Its not so much wrong but necessary in that art has gone thru its hoops to
survive. From units of art making in the 60's and 70's, to DBAE, and more
recently Performance based. Inwardly, we know that mankind ought to be more
highly cultured and the arts are important in maintenance of human dignity,
signs of nobility and greater potential, designed for striving always for
that which seems to just lie beyond. We have been surrounded incessantly by
incompetents concerned with base existence and temporal immediate sensate
gratification. As the dyke springs new holes and we attempt to plug them
and hold dear to life, we attempt to appease the ignorance of the
incompetents whom gain positions of authority (which surrounding culture
deserves; ie., "you deserve what you tolerate") for that which we know to
be true and redeeming of humankind. Privileged and savvy to an insight that
ought to require no defense.

Who best appreciates music but another musician? Standing before a concert
stage with others hopping about enthralled with the hype of who this happens
to be, the musician studies the equipment set up...instruments being used,
subtleties of that required to make the experience happen. The seasoned
veteran scrutinizes and waits to be convinced of how tight the performers
are. He waits with good ear to hear how innovation mixed with the need for
greater creative heights will emit thru muscianship, and if surprised and
impressed...will strain to analyze the "why?" of it.

On stage...the musicians too know the signs. While CD sales and sold out
tickets promise longevity, their hearts long for familiarity and the insight
of the hearer that might recognize their cleverness. Their moment of rare
mastery and genuis. From the stage...they see in the midst of thousands,
the few standing with arms crossed next to one another; every so often
speaking into one another's ears. They recognize being so carefully
studied, because this too is their habit and longing..."to know and to be

Forget the crowd at this point. Know who they want to meet during a break
or after the show? They hunger now to know the report. Were we good, and
why? What made us stand out? What do you play, and with who?

Its the same with artists; with all the forms of developed giftedness,
talents, and creativity.

The problem is...the world about us is more and more hopping about
mindlessly, needing to be impressed but with out a rudder to know why. They
are becoming disconnected...feasting more and more on immediate sensate
gratification. The concert no more ends, and they are plotting their next
drug of mind numbing escapism. They have not been inspired to dig deep
within themselves and like those on stage believe that they too are capable
of higher greater things. The incompetents are spiritually breeding,
creating a great cultural void. The mediocrity of the mass media injects
its hypnotic deadly addiction.

When a culture first begins to lose its way, it would appear that quick
fixes and repairs are enough. Maintenance and quick fix is no longer an
applicable solution, IMHO where once again we become the innovators and find
ourselves pioneers in a vast savage land. It requires pioneers to explore
territory, and courage to stay the course...and especially at a time where
none but the few others on the same journey and mission understand the

What to fix? The home and family are in disrepair, where initial nurturing
and values are most important to empower the child (our future leaders) to
not be passive observers of REAL life nor develop appetites that would seek
to escape life rather than embrace it!

Where values are not understood by the value'less...damage control implores
placation to one more misgotten notion of the incompetents in a last ditch
effort to hold to that final thread to what is good and true. I wish the
value of art making were understood, but that is an understanding lost for
the most part to the times we are living in. As an artist, I often muse how
wonderful it might have been to have lived in a time where the image held in
exhibition was thee social affair...and where the viewer took inventory of
all that was important in life. Where clever worded marketers need not
intercept the patron in an art gallery to inform them why they about to like
the image they are about to see, filled with every other reason to placate
the shallowness of the patron's soul than the simple aesthetic.

Ann, shared with us the post on peace...and I found wisdom in the words that
said if peace is not to be found among the nations, among the cities, our
neighbors nor neither our find it in yourself. To recover
value, to regain proper direction one needs to find a rudder that first
steers their own lives rightly..then influence their family and work in the
reverse until it affects the nations. The problem is...finding that rudder.
All hinges upon an age of optimum pluralism and endless ideology to
recognize and establish what is to rightly be that rudder. To influence the
home, one must first find one's own way. After the family, then to
influence our neighbor and so on. To do that...we ask what makes a right
right, and a wrong wrong? What determines the "ought" for which we can
confidently embrace? This is just how far off course we have become in
these times!

The heart of the problem, is the problem of the heart.

Larry S.
My website, featuring both my artistic and musical personalities-

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!"
Edgar Degas