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Re: [teacherartexchange] monsters in the closet

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From: Maggie White (mwhiteaz_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat May 27 2006 - 11:25:32 PDT


Julie,

It's possible this student was saying something more than just "scary;"
the image sounds morbid and somewhat violent. The image of a hanging
woman doesn't sound like a personal "monster" that's trying to scare
him; he's trying to scare other people who open the door. On the
other hand, who knows what kinds of videos/games/"comics" he's exposed
to at home. Maybe he was influenced by that and used it for shock
value. It's a very slim line we walk between allowing personal
expression and censoring certain images, and it takes experience to even
begin to understand the difference. In my classroom, if a student was
preparing sketches that seemed inappropiate, I would talk to him or her
privately and try to find out if there was more to the image than just
shock value. Occasionally they would confide things that really needed
to be taken care of by a professional counselor or psychologist; I will
not play that role. If it was a subject he felt strongly about, enough
to cause him to go on strike if he couldn't complete it, I'd allow it
but would tell him it could not leave the classroom. He could "visit"
it, but could not share it with his friends. This was a satisfactory
solution to a surprising number of students and I guess the making of
the image was cathartic. I did, on occasion, take some of the drawings
to the counselor or principal for advice.

The 4th grade teacher may seem to be overreacting to you, but it's
possible she has information or suspicions about this boy that she felt
the counselor needed to look into.

Maggie

Julie Jacobusse wrote:

> I had a 4th grade class this year that was totally unmotivated and had
> a lot of behavior problems. Anyway around Halloween time I found this
> project called Monsters in the closet (Like the kids movie Monsters
> Inc.) where your fold a brown piece of 12x18" paper horizontally and
> then on the inside glue a smaller white piece of paper and have the
> students make a monter on the inside piece of paper. They also were
> to make a design on thier doors using oil pastels. This week, I have
> been passing back all their art work-as I had the students make
> portfolios. One disturbed 4th grade teacher saw one of her students
> doors and monster. (She said she was also going to show the school
> counselor.) He was finally very motivated by this project and he had
> a lady hanging from a noose with dagers around her and a pit of tar
> under her, he also wrote the words "Boo!" on the inside. On the
> outside of the door he had blood specs coming out from the door. I
> feel he was just trying to make a scary door and had no other
> psychological things attached-like the 4th grade teacher thought. I
> was happy I finally found a project the class liked and was interested
> in making art. My goals for this project were to gain their interest
> in art, learn how to use art materils like oil pastels, and to use
> design elemnts and creative drawings of monsters. My question is:
> Should I have told that student to just make a monster and he was
> not allowed to use the gorry stuff? How limiting should I make it
> for the elementary students? (It was my first year teaching.)
>
>

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