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Re: [teacherartexchange] TAB


From: Betty B (bettycarol_40_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Mar 04 2006 - 07:32:54 PST

I guess TAB is basically what I am trying with my new
all-year 8th grade class. I didn't know thats what it
was called, but maybe since I come from a studio
background rather than art education that's where it
comes from.

I am an actively exhibiting artist and remember how
many people, once we got to college, never made art
unless they had been given an "assignment", so I
wanted to get my best students in the "habit" of
making their own work. I also have noticed how things
seem to be so important in art education terms that,
very frankly, never came up in my nine years of formal
studio art.

For a few students it has been a very important
experience in their lives, in one case perhaps
life-altering. These kids are really inspiring to me
and I basically at this point just stand back. They
have the full run of my classroom and supply cabinets,
books, even many of my own personal tools. The school
librarian, is, by now, totally aware of every project
they are doing, because they do research with her
whenever they need to. One guy keeps about five
projects going simeltaneously and has decided to be an
art teacher. My "Art Club" has instead turned into
extra after school studio time. At the beginning of
the year they had to write a letter to me explaining
what they were interested in, and what ideas they were
thinking about exploring. One girl has diligently done
nothing but wildlife drawings, paintings, scratchboard
all year, spending the first two months just working
on anatomy. She did a soapstone sculpture of the front
half of an alligator, and now just finished her first
painting. Another guy is designing a dress for a girl
in the class to wear to the spring social, so I moved
my Bernina up to school this week and am teaching him
to sew (we are all wearing black chiffon ribbons
pinned on to a silk rosepetal in support of "Men who

For others, they still have a very hard time
generating a personally meaningful idea that is not
lifted from movies, video games or television, unless
it is a photo of their grandpa. There are, of course,
a couple I regret having invited to be in the class.

But I don't think I will ever do this for all classes.
First of all, it ends up costing me personally quite a
bit of money because of how my supply purchasing
ability is structured. But also, I think my art
program has to be about more than "being artists".
Visual communication is important for everybody, and I
see a distinct division between being an artist and
knowing how to draw.

Most of my students come to me in the 6th grade
drawing like second graders and having never had a
single art lesson ever - nobody has ever pointed out
to them that things appear to get small as they move
away, or that white and red make pink. I spend a lot
of time just teaching visual awareness and the very
very most fundamental points of drawing and color, and
I will maintain that for most of my other classes.

If we had one or two of you elementary teachers here
in town, I bet I could do TAB with all my classes.

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