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Lesson Plans

Re: Gang related Art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lorena Nalin (nalin)
Thu, 29 May 1997 19:00:48 -0700 (MST)

We have a parallel in language philosophy in our district, Dr. Maria
Montano-Harmon is a linguist from California has been working with school
to develop our students use of "academic English". She points out that in
our lives we encounter many forms of language from private to informal to
academic. Academic is what is expected in writing or speaking in school
settings for term papers or oral reports. That is not to say that other
modes are less important or should not be used but they are not appropriate
in certain settings.

I think that art teachers have used this as rationale for not doing or
showing nudes or other images along that line. Of course, age level is
another factor, but when kids are dying because of these images. I feel
that some things have to be off-limits.

Teresa Sheffey writes:

>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.


>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

>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 learned at my inservice that taggers are mostly non-violent individuals
who mainly vandalize property and that gang members hate taggers, so that
some are now becoming more violent as a result.

>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

In my mind this is a challenging issue, I hope others have experiences or
opinion to share.

Lorena Nalin