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Lesson Plans

Re: how to teach multicultural art

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Christine Merriam (
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 09:08:14 +0000

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Anne Hackbarth and Shannon Capra asked:
We are looking for information on Why you should teach
multicultural art and How you should teach it.
We want to teach our peers about the appropriate ways of teaching
about different cultures. We would like to stay away from the
superficial images associated with certain cultures, such as teepees
for Native American groups.

Great time to ask this. Yesterday I was talking to a man from Ghana,
Africa. We were comparing stereotypes we have run into. He went into a
classroom to tell about his home country, and the students just wanted
to know about the wild animals in Kenya. (he had only seen them in a
zoo like most of us). I teach on the Navajo reservation and will never
forget the girl in my graduate class who asked how I liked living in a
tipi. (I told her it was great since they installed plumbing and
electricity... sorry, I do have a bit of sarcasm in me ;). Guess
everyone has Hollywood images ingrained. Most of my students live in
houses, do not herd sheep, play video games, watch too much tv, etc,
I teach about many diverse cultures in my classes. Many of the
images used are historic, not contemporary, so I try to help the
students see that we have old things we acknowledge and consider
special here. But life has changed. The last lesson I taught was on
Japan. I used the free video you can borrow from the National Gallery
of Art called "Daimyo" which is about the Shogun warriors and the fact
that they practiced both warcraft and the peaceful arts. After viewing
it, I asked if my students had seen anyone from Japan... it took a
little prodding, but they realized that we have many visitors/tourists
in our community from Japan. I asked what they wear... etc, and
students saw that contemporary culture is quite different from the
historic culture.
Why should we have multicultural education? To build a knowledge
base of diverse people. We as art educators are in a great position to
build respect for the unique aspects of cultures and create bridges of
common or shared values between our students and people all over the
Chris Merriam
Kayenta Intermediate School

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