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Re: making constructivism simple


From: Esa Tipton (tmtartseducation_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 15:01:43 PDT

I've been thinking about comments like these that
Diane Gregory <> wrote:

"I believe we need to reinvent the profession
and expand it beyond the boundaries of K-12 and
university art education. I believe we need to
include all areas in which art is taught. This would
include teaching art to such K-death populations in:
mental health centers, mental hospitals, museums,
nursing homes, retirement communities, community art
centers, prisons, juvenile detention centers, schools,
businesses, day care centers, the list is virtually
endless. Until art education expands to include all
facets of where art can and is being taught we will
not make any inroads into showing and sharing others
how art is an essential part of our daily lives."

A good point, but not necessarily the either/or
thinking that the author proposes. I worked for many
years with state and county programs that gave funding
for the things that are proposed here in the early
'90's, and did it change the perception of art in the
community? Not much, but it made all of us working in
this arena fell good and it impacted the people who
experienced the art. That is enough from my point of

I think that we don't need any more prescriptions
about what to do. I want to discuss ideas, not
answers.I want to grapple with issues, delve into
controversy, consider polarities, not be told what to

Teachers are burnt out, overworked, and overwhelmed.
The problem is only minimally about teaching and
learning. The biggest problem I see in the profession
is about perceptions in society that are internalized
by teachers. Teachers reflect society, and schools
structure these reflections into curriculum.

What we need are thinkers and doers. People who will
take the risk to try new approaches, new methods, new
philosphies. Who do it without explanations and
justifications. What Tochon, Duncam and Gardner call
for - do one thing different, read one new book, try
one new method, experiment. See what happens, learn
from it, do it differently next time. How many people
give themselves permission to try this? We fear our
systems, are afraid of backlash, we don't try.

When I did the sculpture project I posted about the
sculpture garden in Beijing, I had no money for it,
as some people assumed. I had only the vision and the
inspiration at the beginning. I found the funding by
writing grants, going to meetings, pitching the
proposal to every person involved in management and
funding of the school. By my own drive, determination
and advocacy. I made it happen because I believed it
was the right thing to do, I believed it was important
for the school, the kids, and the public. It took a
long time, but in the end, I procured the funding and
we did it.

Teachers don't need philosophies of education to do
their job, their work. They need vision and a
community of people who have vision, too, who support
them. I don't believe art education is dead, as Diane
Gregory writes. What is dead is our own thinking about
who we are and where we are going. Step into the
river. It's alive, pulsing with life. There is energy
out there to do what we want and how we want to do it.
We are worn down by overcommittment and too much work,
too many problems to solve. We drain our creative
energies in the fix it mode.

The myth is that somehow it won't take the struggle to
imagine something different from the norm. It doesn't.
It's just damn hard work. I want to discuss ideas of
what people think because it makes me think as well.

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