"I just do not observe a connection between learning ability and art ability.
At all. Good or bad. When our special Ed staff put kids in my class BECAUSE
they are LD and therefore are probably going to be successful in art, that is
not based on anything real that I have ever observed as a teacher or a
student. There are non-artists and good artists equally distributed among any
group I have ever witnessed. LD doesn't make a kid more likely to be a good
artist than does "Gifted" status. Whether or not they can use their hands well
doesn't stop the good ones, either. Poor behavior appears in all levels of
academic ability, so that isn't that big a factor for me either. I always tell
the kids that drawing isn't about hand skills, it's about seeing."
I agree with this statement. I have been reading this thread of discussion,
wondering if I should risk putting my 2 cents worth in. Well, I'm having a
good morning, so I'll take me chances. :)
While attending Ohio State University, I was asked to read an article written
by Douglas Blandy (http://aad.uoregon.edu/faculty/blandy/) concerning special
needs children and art entiteled, "Ecological and Normalizing Approaches to
Disabled Students and Art Education" (Art Education, May 1989). Granted, this
article was written several years ago, but it has shaped the way I have
approached those students in my classroom. In the article, Blandy describes
three methods used when teaching disabled students in the art room:
1. Medical Prescriptive Model- teachers focus on what the student is able to
do rather than setting new goals for the student. Students are separated from
peers and given separate goals and expectations. Art is taught to students to
improve fine motor skills rather than for the sole purpose of creating.
2. Ecological Approach- emphasizes the students' abilities and his/her
relationship with their environment and people in their lives. Student-teacher
relationship is a partnership where roles are non-rigid and educational goals
and objectives are negotiable. Instead of using art as therapy, students are
encouraged to reflect upon themselves and create their art accordingly.
3. Normalization- disabled students are treated as "normally" as possible in
the hopes of generating "normal" behavior. All vocabulary referring to to
"disabled" or "retarded" persons must cease on the part of the educator in
order not to separate the child. Special needs children are placed in the
group, not to heal them, but to involve them in the process of learning.
(Note: I took the above descriptions from a paper I had written during
college, so they are my own words and not his.)
My position in this issue lies with the ecological and normalization
approaches. I do not believe in the medical model for several reasons; the
student is perceived as sick and in need of a cure, students are labeled or
stereotyped, differentiating expectations of these students may cause them to
underachieve- they may not set new goals for themselves and only do the
minimum of work expected.
This is the way I conduct my classroom. ALL students have the same
expectations and will achieve their own measure of success.