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Lesson Plans

Re: Blind Eugenie/making messes

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Thu, 02 May 1996 10:38:22 -0700 (MST)

On Wed, 1 May 1996, Sandra Hildreth wrote:

> You ask what happens between the ages of 4,5,6,7, and 12,13? Adolescence!

Well, maybe yes, maybe no Sandra. Certainly there is a perceivable
pattern there to fit the nominalization. But, it may be that we "see"
something called adolescence because culturally it is what we expect to
see. That is not to say that its all behavior and there is no
phisiological component associated with dawning sexual maturity. Clearly
there is! (at least in my belief system)

I guess what I am suggesting that much of what we perceive as adolescence
or central to adolescence could well be an artifact of our own culture
and that we needn't necessarily accept it as a given, or a completely
adequate picture of the "facts of life".

> Fear of being different. Fear of making a mistake. Fear that your peers
> won't like you, or think you're weird. Some of this is natural - part of
> the growing up process, and some is of course influenced by parents, peers,
> TV, etc., and teachers.

Well noted Sandra, some of this, and some of that. I think the fears may
be greater in our culture, in part, because any notions we may of had of a
smooth transition to mature responsibility have been fragmented to the
point of non-existance. The high value placed on immaturity, on neotony,
on the youth cult by our culture has its price. Altogether too many of us,
I think, want to foster and preserve certain stages of life: infancy,
toddlerhood, the age of 'budding' +/-10-12; and, ultimately, to freeze
everything at some single moment of glorious blooming to maturity at the
end of the teen years. Boy! how many of us would love to be 20 again
(knowing WHAT we know NOW, of course, and not having to face the small
failures and betrayals that come with the learning of some deeper maturity)

Again, my point is that I'm not completely ready to cede adolescence and
its confusion and seemingly chaotic growth and now, violence to "the way
things are". I don't want to pass over that part of the picture too
quickly. I want to be more conscious of what I'm willing to accept as
models of adolescence; and I do mean the plural model'S' here and the need
for young humans to CHOOSE which model to follow, having some aesthetic
sense of the "rightness" of that choice.

> Schools do tend to stifle the creativity you wanted
> to encourage in your lesson (don't make messes, don't make strange things,
> and so on). That's why it's all the more essential to have good strong art
> programs to be an oasis in the desert of conformity that seems to rule many
> of our educational systems. So many of the academic subjects have so much
> to try to teach, that they have no time for experimentation and creativity.
> This is definitely a setback, in my mind, but again, this is how the arts
> can have a significant role in schools.

Yes! Science tends to move inward, converging towards some single
universal rule (and its exceptions). So much school art and so much
teaching [of art teachers] today still seems to yearn for this kind of
certainty or authority for what we do. Art, the arts, unlike the sciences
are more divergent; tending towards personal elaborations of the universal
schemes, towards unique solutions to the puzzles posed by life.

To preserve the wonderment we need not resort to preservation in amber,
not to cling to a stiff re-enactment of some stage of life long passed.
I think Blake would call that "single vision" and "Newton's sleep". To
preserve wonderment we need the 'wrong' answer for the 'right' reason, to
value play as a high art and not demean it as a trivial thing. To accept
failure as a frequent and necessary playmate along the road towards
growth and achievement.

I get carried away altogether too often!
time to stop and get unserious myself!!

off to catch a lizard
(and let 'em go again!)