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Lesson Plans

re: arts (was Re: sacrilage)

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Becky Alexander (Bekalex)
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 08:34:40 -0800

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Thanks Brian and SAN D for great posts. I would only like to add that
unless a culture is seriously isolated a certain amount of artifact
exchange is inevitable. I don't think that this is a western phenomenon,
instead it may be a human impulse to bring treasures of the culture visited
back to your homeland and to leave certain items at the visited area. (Or
in the case of the US to bring artifacts from your homeland to your new
home.) Archeologists trace the trade and exploration areas of ancient
cultures by physical evidence of their visits.

I live and teach in a multicultural area. I have Native Americans,
Mexicans, Southeast Asians and Anglos in my classroom. I try to emphasize
that all cultures have contributed beautiful and useful things things from
their heritage to ours today. (We are currently studying Easter Eggs and
the Russian input. I will touch Irish story telling this month, Asian kite
making next and Mexican American pinatas in May.)

We have learned about Black American music, Native American clay, French
impressionism and more. I show the kids these places on the globe and talk
about how the people came here bringing their important things and ways and
how the Native American was already here and had his important things and

One difficult thing each year is Martin Luther King day when I have the
kids color a portait of King. They have to use a dark brown color for his
face. This is really hard for many of them. (Lesson is non-violence but his
anger was about race.)

I was a history major, I frequently include art and social studies together
in themes. I don't get into the difficulties of culture clash. The kids are
4 - 6 years old. But I teach that we are one and we came from a lot of
places. Each culture contributed. The kids see each other, they hear
Spanish, Lao and Hmong in the classroom. Frances brought the pictures of
herself dressed up for the Pow-wow in town where she danced. Ma brought her
pictures of herself dressed up for Hmong New Year also celebrated locally.
Danny brought a pinata for his birthday.

These all probably have spiritual or historical connotations. Fine. We are
one, we came from many. All are important and all are part of.

Becky Alexander


>Glen:(RE:your visit to Native American museum- and subsequent conscience
> I think your sensitivity is admirable but do not let it interfere
>with the
>job at hand. I think SAN D stated most of the reasons we study other
>cultures. Because certain objects were originally created with a spiritual
>significance, does not make them less beautiful. The fact that many of the
>objects related to past civilizations which have survived probably owe this
>survival more to their aesthetic appeal than religious significance. Yes,
>there are vast cultural differences within the family of man and, yes there
>will always be commercialism and decorating trends which draw on "different"
> The down side of this is the production of cheap knock-offs and "faux"
>artwork. The upside, however, is really cool. While, during this present
>phase there is a great market for almost anything "indian"(much of which is
>made in the shadow of the Great Wall), there is a new awareness of not only
>Native American art but the various cultures which produced them. It has
>also been a boon to many Native American artists and artisans who have been
>producing fine traditional wares for centuries (these were their primary
>objects of trade) for as the market for imitations rises in volume, the
>market for originals skyrockets in price!! I don't think you will find a
>Native American artist who thinks they are selling their spirituality- just
>as there are very few people alive that believe my camera will capture their

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