> I worked for awhile in an alternative school in Illinois, and the first
> inservice they held was on gang symbols. We were told not to let them write
> these things: 5 pointed stars, eight balls, certain color combinations, etc.
> As an art teacher I had a hard time with the whole thing. I tried to talk to
> the kids about gang symbols. We talked about "symbols in art and throughout
> history" and how they were used by cultures. I tried to get them to see that
> symbols are somehow part of who we are and can express greater meaning. I
> also talked about how they can seperate and label us also. I used Dr.
> Seuss's book about the starbellies as an example.
> I always felt that the administration were being ignorant in just trying to
> disallow any of it. But one day, a student in another class wrote certain
> numbers on the board with pitchforks pointing down, and 5 minutes later, a
> large gang fight broke out. The kids just broke up into two groups and all
> hell broke loose.
> So there is a reality to this use of symbols to identify different gang members.
> Now I have moved to El Paso and there are different gangs here, lots of
> tagging.The school that I am going to be working for has put out a dress
> code to the students....they cannot wear baggy pants, sports shirts, buckles
> with initials, or use old english calligraphy. I know when I begin to teach
> in July, I am going to encounter gang symbols in the art room.
> I would be interested in all opinions on how to deal with this. I believe
> that this is bringing more censorship in the schools (no baggy pants?). I do
> not like to censor my students work .
> What is the opinion of the other art teachers being confronted with this issue?
> Teresa Sheffey