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Lesson Plans

Curriculum Issues- Ethical

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Roxanna May-Thayer (
13 Mar 97 15:57:47 +0000

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Curriculum Issues: Ethical =
3:28 PM 3/10/97
On the days of February 26 and 27, South Mountain High School in =
Phoenix, Arizona experienced two days of student unrest (the media called =
it "riots"). A fight on campus escalated into a mob scene and within a =
very short amount of time the campus was swarming with police. There were =
four or five helicopters circling the school and a van from every major =
television station was parked across the street. =
In my eleven years at this school I have witnessed too many incidents =
like this both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods. As anyone =
can imagine, events such as these cause a great deal of stress at a school.=
My initial reaction is often one of despair. I can't help but think how =
meaningless my art classes must be to these students in light of what =
their daily lives are like. Upon reflection, it becomes clear to me that =
these kids need the arts in their lives more than ever.
The thematic curriculum, Our Place in the World, addresses many =
important issues that would be very appropriate for my classroom right now!=
In the introduction it states, "Each of us needs more than a place to =
shelter us from the weather. WE ALSO NEED A PLACE AMONG PEOPLE". What =
better place to feel that one belongs than at school? What better place =
at school to feel that you are an important, contributing member than in =
the art room?
Many of us on this faculty have been trying to think of ways to help =
our students get out of the gangs and tear down the fear and =
misunderstanding that causes much of the racist feelings our students have =
for each other. Incorporating themes like belonging, group identity, and =
interdependence into the curriculum from the time children first enter =
school cannot hurt in our greater task of building strong and safe =
The term "ethical literacy" was recently introduced to me by a fellow =
art teacher. The past few years in this district have been thick with =
discussions on literacy and such ideas as reading, writing, and math =
across the curriculum. The concept of being "fluent and articulate" in =
one's ethics seems to be even more basic than the "three R's".
I hope that every art teacher has had the opportunity to sense how =
special an art classroom can be when a microcommunity of students become a =
strong and cohesive unit. The level of creativity, the sharing of ideas, =
the willingness to take risks with their work, all blossoms in an =
environment of trust and mutual respect. =
Many of my student's lives seem to be ruled by anger, ridicule, and =
hopelessness. There is no motivation to explore or create because there =
is nobody "out there" to value the effort. Perhaps the benefits of a =
thematic instruction (making learning more relevant to their lives and =
their other subjects, etc.) would help these students to care a little bit =
more about their work, each other, and their role as a member of an art =
class. =

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