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Lesson Plans


[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Tue, 14 May 1996 23:54:41 -0500 (CDT)

Henry and Craig -=20

I have really enjoyed your comments on the "possibility of failure" factor=
in classroom instruction. I totally agree with your insights. Certainly,=
the greater the chance for failure in a venture, the greater the feeling of=
achievement when we succeed. Like Craig, I also think it is very important=
for students to understand that artists are frequently unhappy with their=
results. In fact, many adults would benefit from this understanding. It's=
amazing how few people realize the sheer hard work, trial and error,=
frustration and dissatifaction the average artist experiences. Young and=
old alike suffer from the delusion that artists - at least realist artists=
- are simply=20born gifted with the ability to draw or sculpt or paint. =20
In fourth grade, we finish the year with a unit on the arts of China and=
Japan. Our culminating activity is to attempt sumi-e: Japanese brush=
painting. This can be a VERY frustrating activity - the strokes are very=
specific and we try to create authentic products. For those of you=
familiar with this discipline, you are aware that it can take years to=
become accomplished. I stress to my students that my demonstration, which=
looks good to them, would not be highly regarded by MY teacher; that even=
though I have drawn and painted in the Western tradition for many years, I=
am frequently very frustrated by my lack of skill in this area; that even a=
few great strokes are a good day's work in a 40 minute class period. =
Chinese and Japanese black ink paintings can seem deceptively simple. This=
exercise is a wonderful way to teach appreciation for the hours of hard=
work and preparations some artists need to make their work look "easy".=
(Think of great dancers and musicians and free-throw shooters.) In most of=
the projects I present in the earlier years of my curriculum, the student=
is assured of some level of success if he or she makes a serious effort;=
however, after the student has gained enough self-confidence not to be=
devastated by a few failures, I think it can be very valuable to have a few=
projects where hard work doesn't insure even minimal success. Contour=
drawing is a good example. We begin with blind contour, and for gifted=
children who are used to having things RIGHT, this can be a real challenge.=
One thing I have always stressed to the kids is that everyone has=
different strengths - some will be colorists, some draughtsmen, some will=
work best in 3-D. (Michelangelos are not a dime a dozen!) I think that the=
attitude of the teacher toward such "failures" helps determine how the=
child accepts these setbacks. "Un-successes" are simply a fact of artistic=
Thanks again, Craig and Henry!

Eileen Prince
Sycamore School