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Lesson Plans


Questions and answers for listening (fwd)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Sat, 23 Mar 1996 14:44:30 -0700 (MST)


On Sun, 21 Jan 1996 tatc wrote:

> First Question:
>
> What makes a good art teacher?

For me, Diane, what makes a good art teacher is a personal confidence and
vision in relation to at least one of the DBAE disciplines. Beyond that,
because, to my mind, art is inextricable from culture, an equal commitment
to culture AS A DISCIPLINE.

> What is the single most important factor in making a good art teacher? Is
> there one single most important factor?

If there WAS such a singular factor, for me it would be a commitment to
the ecologies of culture and mind; the aesthetic components in particular.

If you can imagine a cultural "forest ranger" commited to a vital and
evolving diversity of human life and its furtherance, continuity and
development (not soley to its static preservation like a fly in amber)
You might be close to what I am imagining. Not a farmer out on the
cleared land producing acre upon acre of monocultural herbage.

> Second Question:
>
> What can university educators do to bring out or develop this single most
> important factor that makes a good art teacher?

Establish linkages to the departments of communication, anthropology,
philosophy, social (or human) ecology, marketing, and natural environment
where they occur in ones university. Further to mentor those students in
finding appropriate areas to become involved in and which match their own
interests and drives. Fit the curriculum to the student, not the student
to the curriculum. Remember that some of those kids (and non trad adults
will have something like ADD or some other impairment and won't respond
well by being constrained to fit into some formal departmental mold.

> Third Question:
>
> Where do you rank the knowledge of art content (the subject matter in its
> fullest definition) in importance to the success of an art teacher?

Knowledge is a tricky term. We make so many assumptions about it and so
many of our beliefs are only APPARENTLY shared. If we are not there
already, we are fast approaching the era wherein there is more knowledge
than there are people to know. (..and this despite the continuing
population explosion!) I cannot say with confidence that there is a
single canon that must be mastered. Knowledge is important, NO DOUBT THERE.
But because of the complexity, diversity and quantity of knowledge any
single canon essentially means paying attention to only 20% or so of what
is possible or needful.

The modernist paradigms were so much easier. The Bauhaus or the Academy
spelled out what was important. A simple tautology that sufficed. Today,
at this moment, such a simplistic and "taught"ological answer will not
suffice. Our teachers need to cross cultures and to cross disciplines.
there is no single canon of culture or disciplinary bible which will be
adequate in todays world.... of course this is a personal view. The other
side of the argument must be made as well. there are no simple or
singular answers.

> Fourth Question:
>
> Where do you rank the ability to make good art and the abilitity to make
> artistic critical/aesthetic judgements?

Aesthetic and critical judgements I rank the highest (who'd a guessed!) I
tend to buy into the notion that excellence is rare and that, sad as it
is, so is the ability to make "good art". Yeah, a teacher should be able
to make and demonstrate _relatively_ good art of some sort. I might,
MIGHT venture that when a teacher takes on teaching production
methodology outside hir expertise - relatively little can be gained unless
a student has his own calling in that method, media, or style. But that's
speculation and heavily biased. Knowledge could be more important than
ability, but I'm iffy there...

> Fifth Question:
>
> If the ability to make critical/aesthetic judgements is ranked high as
> being needed, is art making the sole way in which a prospective art teacher
> needs to develop this abilitity? Are there other avenues?

I'm probably reading this wrong as the two clauses seem to argue withone
another... BUT.... For me, art making is not the sole way. The phrase
"art making" suggests a focus on the object "ART" something separate from
daily life and within the high ritual of culture. I prefer art as a verb
more than art as a noun... " making WITH art" over "ART making", speaking
with art, dressing with art, moving with art, living IN art. The teacher
/critic is viable, the teacher/aesthetician, the teacher/historian, and
the teacher/culture broker as well. And why not? For some of us at least
it is the ongoing process of human life that takes precedence over
academic disciplines. That others should find the academic discipline
ascendant is no suprise, not problematic.

> Sixth Question:
>
> Someone has said on this Listserv, I can't remember who, that not all good
> artists make good teachers, but good art teachers are usually good artists.
> Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Disagree. That "usually" in opposition to the "ALL" is kind of a cheat;
these are apples and oranges not two similar turnips we compare. The "real"
problem lies in the question of what constitutes the "good artist". There
is no singular definition of "good artist" that is appropriate or universal.
Good art teachers have a realtionship to art where teaching may well be more
important than art, however even in secondplace art at some level will
usually be well served. Artists on the other hand have any number of
other, alternative issues that may or may not be in second place... Do
you see the distinction -- artist/art TEACHER? --- artist (1 primary
interest) v. art teach (two primary interests)? It is easy to see HOW the
distinction offered might be valid, BUT the structure demands verifification of
obvious perceptions based on a flawed comparison.

eh! ...its difficult. I doubt this makes sense to anyone...

> Seventh Question:
>
> If you agree with the above statement, then what do you think of attempts
> to educate elementary classroom teachers in helping them teach art? Is
> this where we should be spending our energies? Does this not encourage
> schools to embrace an even more generalist perspective to the extent that
> elementary teachers are comforted with the fact that they know very little
> about art content, but that is okay and they can teach art anyway? Does
> this not encourage and provide fuel for the idea that there is little meat
> in art anyway and anyone can teach art?

Hold it Diane! :) you mean if I disagree I can't give an answer... Let me
rethink that reply...

Heck I'm just going to answer anyway!
- what do you think of attempts to educate elementary classroom teachers
in helping them teach art?

Teach art? Is art taught? What kind of art is taught? Is that the only
art that counts? "teach ABOUT art" theres a distinction (I'm so durn
picky huh?) "invite elementary students to explore arts" I like that.

> Is this where we should be spending our energies?

We should be spending our energies IN THIS ERA on re-engaging people and
the arts. On finding out what constitutes art for the communities we
serve and getting them involved in its practice (No, not professionally but
simply, as a fact of life, a recognition of something ellusive but already
in place.) and aware of its experience AND the importance of its
significance. Aesthetics, History, and Criticism impact not only the
so-called arts but also politics, sports, and economics. Production IS
an art whether a painting a football game or a stockmarket coup.

> Does this not encourage schools to embrace an even more generalist
> perspective to the extent that elementary teachers are comforted with
> the fact that they know very little about art content, but that is okay
> and they can teach art anyway?

Maybe. Maybe it encourages schools and teachers to embrace the notion
that art is implicit in any discipline that they teact, that we are ALL are
first, last and always ART TEACHERS! A bit grandiose or overstated perhaps
but only a bit. At least arguable (and well worth the argument)

> Does this not encourage and provide fuel for the idea that there is
> little meat in art anyway and anyone can teach art?

It could. It could also be threaded in an opposing direction.

> Eighth Question:
>
> If you do not agree with the above statement,

AH Thank you Diane:

> What would you change in art teacher preparation programs that are very
> studio oriented?

I gotta chuckle here... NOTHING! Seriously. I think we can afford and in
fact I think we NEED programs (some programs, not all) that strike out in
wholley traditional and even abberant directions. We need diversity most
of all. Couldn't we say. "I'd never teach art THAT way but you get some
interesting and even positive results. Yes you have failures but so do I.
We are, each in our own way ,preserving different traditions, for art has
roamed widely and planted seeds in many worlds."

What would
> you change in elementary classroom teacher preparation programs that only
> have one required art methods class?

Add some emphasis on the impact that the arts, the disciplines of
aesthetics and criticism in particular, have played in every age and
aspect of human civilization! Get them searching for examples!

-henry
pomopous as ever for what he is....
;)