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Lesson Plans


Re: cultural sensitivity

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carla harwitt (charwitt.us)
Wed, 12 Mar 1997 19:43:41 -0800 (PST)

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You raise an interesting point. There is an issue here coming from the
other direction. As a Jew, I have sometimes been very offended at the
frequent use of Christian religious symbols in nonreligious settings, for
example Christmas trees in public schools. I take even more offense when
people tell me it "shouldn't" bother me, that it's "just a tree with
lights." A tree with lights any other time of the year (such as the
year-round lights outside the Tavern on the Green in NYC) is just a tree
with lights. A tree with lights in December is a Christmas tree.

Thanks for letting me vent.

--Carla in LA

On Tue, 11 Mar 1997 tscanlin.edu wrote:

> To the artsednet,
> Teresa Tipton mentioned a very good point in a recent posting when
> she said:
> > We must be sensitive to those belief systems and not impose ours on them,
> >further "robbing" them of their essence. There are ceremonies we shouldn't
> >be imitating and objects we shouldn't be replicating, according to the
> >belief system of the culture. To assume that it's ok in the name of art in
> >another form of cultural ethnocentrism.
>
> I think we should consider, in this light, if any use in a decorative way
> of *our* religious icons and symbols would be offensive to us. It doesn't
> matter our religion, if there is something we consider sacred and "off
> limits" then there are other such images and symbols from the religion or
> belief systems of others that should be regarded with just as much respect
> as we would hope ours would be. I don't think this has to be viewed as
> political correctness, but rather sensitivity to others that transcendes
> hot topics and jargon.
>
> >It's important for us as teachers and artists to discover what those are
> >and to treat them with the respect they deserve by not placing them in a
> >context which undermines their intrinisic value. When in doubt, consult
> >the primary source - i.e. native elders and historians - for advice.
>
> Very good advice, Teresa. And, I feel, if one can't locate sources
> sufficient to give us a good understanding of significance then we
> shouldn't use the image, symbol, or object-type as a source for art work.
>
> Tommye Scanlin
>
>
>
>


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