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Lesson Plans

censorship and art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Tue, 5 Mar 1996 20:50:03 -0600

Greetings from Minnesota. I've viewed with interest many of the comments
on Artsednet- it's hard to keep up with it all!

I'm certain we all have had "experiences" that we would view as
"censorship." For my own part, I've had everything from a High School
"demanding" all pictures of nudes (sculpture and painting) be cut out of
our media center encyclopedias-to being accused by a minister of teaching
devil worship because I did a unit on MesoAmerican art (The unit in
question integrated students in Spanish, World History and Art at the high
school level- working with 104 5th and 6th grade students in making masks
and learning dance. It was a week-long event that culminated in two
performances- one for other students; one for parents. I was very proud of
our efforts until I read the "letters to the editor" in our local paper the
following week). It's hard to believe, but this type of thing DOES happen
in small-town America.

For this reason, I talk to my students, regularly, about their
responsibility to community. We discuss aesthetics and our value systems,
exploring the relationships between style and culture and how censorship
affects our creativity. We look at how art constantly pushes at the
boundaries and structure of our culture. As a teacher, one of the
discoveries I've made is that many students do not UNDERSTAND the
boundaries that others want to enforce, so it's easy for them to try to
shock and push the boundaries. Whether we like it or not, we are placed in
the position of being "censors"-(That's why I feel that the "chip" that is
being proposed for television is a poor solution to the problem- again, we
try to legislate morality. It's a lesson in futility. The same with the
internet and technology. Students know right from wrong).

I don't tell my students that they "can't-" rather, I try to make them
aware of how others may interpret their work. My message tends to be
simplistic- 1) You know right from wrong. 2) If you believe you're right,
fight for what you believe in. 3) Don't apologize or be ashamed for what
you believe.

Great dialogue!

Dave Beaman
(Our Supt. was impressed with what we've been doing with technology- he
gave me his email account!:) The counselor retired!:) The minister is under
investigation from the IRS! :( - What goes around.....