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Lesson Plans


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Roy Liebergen (rllieber)
Sat, 08 Mar 1997 21:11:39 -0600

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With all of our efforts to be politically correct, to not offend or
appropriate another culture's art forms, I wonder if we are not doing a
great disservice to ourselves and our students. I believe students
learn so much from art, and relate it to other disciplines, because of
the hands on, production of art, even if it is from another culture. If
my students remember that much of Native American history is in the form
of oral remembrances, storytelling, because they made a storyteller
doll, then it is a valuable lesson. If they view our Hmong immigrants
in a new light because we study Hmong travelcloths, and do an adapted
lesson, that is also valuable.

I was reminded as I read my mail earlier of a student in college with
me, who was Jewish. She was adamant that she was the only person in our
class who had a right to make art that spoke of the Holocaust. Is this
really where we want to go? Only if you experience violence do you have
a right to speak out against it? If you are happy, you may only make
"happy" art. Art has been made through the ages for a variety of
reasons, to protest inequality, to glorify, to beautify. So, because I
am of European background, I can only make "white, European" art, and I
may only teach "white, European" art. I hope not, I will not. And, if
having a student make an artwork from another culture, helps that
student understand that culture better, then I'm going to continue to do
that as well.

By the way, last week, a young Native American student told our class
that we could not make dreamcatchers because we did not have to medicine
to do so. But, he added, we could make them using metal hoops and
wrapping them with yarn, because then they would just be beautiful
decorations, without the power to take away bad dreams. He, however,
could make real dreamcatchers because he had the medicine. It was a
wonderful learning moment, for me and for the class.


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