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Lesson Plans

Curriculum Issues: More Q&A

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Mary Erickson (MARY.ERICKSON)
Sun, 02 Mar 1997 18:30:04 -0700

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Ben [Ben Schasfoort <Ben.Schasfoort>],

Thank you again for your thoughtful questions and suggestions. You may
well be asking questions that concern others as they consider whether "Our
Place in the World" is a resource they can use. I've set off my responses
to your questions with ****:

>Big surprize, such a long personal answer from you. I appreciate that
>highly. I expect you realize that English is not my mother tongue. That
>make me feel easier to write.

****I have great respect for your ability to communicate so clearly in a
second language.
>Some questions about what you wrote:
>< If you check out the resources listed at the end of each lesson
>you can find a list of the essential materials required for each lesson.>
>Is that under the heading RESOURCES ? For foreign readers I would suggest
>MATERIALS NEEDED. Resources sounds to me as if one could use them, but that
>they are not essential.

****I think that's a great idea. I'll use it if I have a chance to revise.
><Actually, I find the task of distinguishing the four art disciplines
>increasingly difficult.
>I believe that an integrated approach drawing from many art (and nonart)
>disciplines may be the preferable approach.>
>I agree (about the integrated approach), but often it is helpful if one can
>distinguish parts of a whole big something. It also is sometimes possible
>and legitimate to focus on one part of art education. If the teacher does
>not realize that there are more parts he easely could think that he does art
>education in the right way while he only does art making or art making and
>art history.

****You make an excellent point.
><The present resource focuses on helping students learn how to use
>traditional art historical inquiry questions (four key questions with this
>That answer made things clear to me.
>So the questions are about art history, and you distinguished seventeen areas.

****Sorry I didn't make that clearer from the outset.

>Is there another set of questions for art criticism and a third for
>aesthetics? If that is the case, I would tell teachers so, if not, I would
>tell them there are not.

**** Yes, Click on Discipline-Based Art Education on the opening page and
then on each of the disiplines.

>Now I know the theme of this unit (found it too discreetly written in the
>Theme Introduction Lesson. It is so important, capitalize it in bold),

****Thanks for the suggestion.

I ask
>myself if these four key questions (and seventeen areas?) only belong to
>this theme.

*****Actually I've used the 17 questions as a structure for organizing
information about artworks from many cultures and eras in the larger
curriculum, "Stories of Art," of which this is a part. I chose to focus on
these specific four questions (1. Reproductions Vs Originals, 2. Technical
Features, 3. the sensory element of shape, and 4) the natural context) in
the first unit because my experience and research suggest that they might
be some of the more easily understood issues. Other units in "Stories of
Art" (which are not posted) address other art historical inquiry questions.

>There goese something around in my mind.
>Can't we develop one set of key questions/areas that can always be used for
>everything that is visual, art or non-art, for art history, criticism and
>aesthetics? Some questions will not be asked always, as some aspects will
>not be visual for instance, but that, the student will discover doing his
>I find your seventeen areas very helpful for what I have in mind and (who
>can forbid me?) I am going to look for this general set of questions.
****I'd like to hear what you think of the questions I've proposed for art
making, aesthetics, and art criticism.
>For this week there are questions about the theme.
>Characteristics for educational powerful themes?
>1. A theme should fit with the pupils' experience, or it should be
>geared to
>the pupils' perception of their environment, or have already their interest.
>2. A theme should take no bigger cultural and social field than they
>can survey.
>3. A theme should be 'inquirable' (is that English?)
>4. A theme (in art education) should have possibilities for inquiry about
>visual qualities.
>Does this theme scores on these four points?
>1 I doubt if students say hurray if you just say what the theme is about.
>Education is almost always a matter of being an educator. I mean, a lot
>depends of how you bring the theme, how you introduce it from the very
>beginning. This theme has at least possibilities to capture the students'
>2, 3 and 4 all OK, so this is at least a good theme.
>I think that your question about the educational powerfulness of the theme
>is not about the theme, but about the whole method: all the lessons with
>their readings, questions, suggestions, visual stimuli etc. Let me say this.

>If I would use this material, I would change parts and pieces, but I would
>keep the red line.

****By "red line" do you mean you would retain the power to delete? I
believe that is the right and responsibility of a teacher.
>I still have problems with the second line under the theme's name: art helps
>us find our place in the world. Where, at what moment comes the light about
>this item into the student's brain? Or may we exprect that this is a
>discovery that goes through the whole method: Stories of Art?
****I may be being "too discrete" again. I believe Fee, in the imagination
story, finds her place among her people in that story. The Search-for-Place
collage lesson asks students to find visual evidence of place in their
surroundings. The membership flag lesson asks students to imagine how
visual cues might be used to identify a person as belonging (having a
place) among a group of people in an imaginary culture of the future. Young
boys may have been initiated into their places as adult men in caves
painted with bison. A Sioux woman's identify may be revealed in the tribal
patterns and symbols of her parfleche case. My hope is that the reflective
essay questions (especially questions #1&2) give students an opportunity to
build their sense of place, based on their own portfolio of work.

>The icon idea is excellent and exactly right to visual art education material.

**** I'm wondering if I should place the Our Place in the World theme icon
(the concentric sort-of circles) within lesson plans as markers to focus
teachers' attention on those parts of the lessons that address the theme.
What do you think?

**** But perhaps this is not your question. You did ask WHEN comes the
light. I'm not sure. I hope it lights up a little right away (in the
first lesson -- Introduction to the theme) and grows and develops as the
lessons build upon each other, and as students are able to reflect on their
experience, and as they compare and contrast artworks from different
cultures or eras.

As I read some earlier responses to the Curriculum Issues Seminar, I've
found some different suggestions. Some folks (and now I may be thinking
about my students at Arizona State University, rather than members of the
ArtsEdNet Talk) seem to grab onto the theme and run with it. They find
visual evidence of place all around them in art and beyond art. I do
recall Alpha Lenley writing a fascinating response to the theme last week
on ArtsEdNet Talk. She shifted the theme to "change" and then back to
"place" in a wonderful way. Last year I had a chance to work with teachers
in Ohio, who began with the idea of Our Place in the World and spun out
unit plans in all sorts of different directions building on their own
teaching strengths, community resources, and student interests. As the
author of a "Curriculum Resource," this is what makes me believe the
resource may have some value--when teachers (and ultimately students) can
make their own sense of it. This is what I hear you doing as you write of
keeping the "red line" and when you write: "Education is almost always a
matter of being an educator."

Thank you again for your thoughtful questions.

Mary Erickson
Curriculum Issues Seminar Leader

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