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Lesson Plans

re:nudes in the classroom

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Tue, 12 Mar 1996 21:07:42 -0600 (CST)

I teach art in grades 1-8 at a private school for academically gifted
students. My artroom walls are plastered with reproductions, including a
couple of nudes. In addition, I put up supplemental materials, depending on
the art history units under discussion in our fourth through seventh grade
curriculum, and these frequently include nudes. (The "Discus Thrower" is
there at this very moment, albeit in a somewhat discreet position.) I've
never had a first, second or third grader make a deal out of it. (I will
admit, these are very culturally advantaged kids.) In fourth grade, we
begin focusing on art history as a distinct discipline. At the beginning of
the year, I give my "nudes" lecture. I explain that the human body is a
natural and beautiful thing and that artists have portrayed it since the
beginning of time. I add that, if I didn't believe they were mature enough
to handle this material, I wouldn't present it at this stage. I point out
that the many art books we will be using for reference will contain nudes
which I can hardly cut out, that they will encounter nudes in their computer
research, and that I could not take them to the museum were I not assured of
their mature behavior. (All of our students have been to the museum several
times by fourth grade, and I have never found this to be a problem.) Fourth
graders love this appeal to their "maturity" and by the time hormones really
start to rage in grades five and six, nudes are just another fact of
artistic life. I will admit that I choose slides and reproductions
judiciously, but I don't pull many punches. (I will also admit that, aside
from pay and scheduling, my school is as close to heaven as an art teacher
gets - parents, other faculty and administration really support my program!)
I think the trick is to make nudes a "given" - no big deal. Hope this
experience is helpful.
Eileen Prince
Art Specialist, Sycamore School, Indianapolis, Indiana