We believe that just because students experience art briefly, that doesn't
mean that you (as the teacher) cannot help the students make a lasting
connection between the work and their lives. For example, a child who
visits an temporary exhibit and gets to see, and maybe manipulate the work
makes a more lasting connection than a child who just drifts through the
museum and doesn't really listen to the discussion or take time to really
see the work. Also, when you go back to the classroom, (assuming that you
saw the art elsewhere) you can talk about the work and maybe investigate or
research the artist, his or her other works; you could also compare and
contrast the work the children saw with other works in the same genre or
style. You could compare techniques and mediums and in this way, build upon
the knowledge that the student has already aquired through the first work.
This will also help the student make a more lasting connection with the
work and he or she will love you and bring you apples everyday.
Anel, Belia, Rosa Mar'a, Lindsay, and Margarita
I appreciate these comments and suggestions. I also want to add and ask
educators to be cautious to assume the students are interested and can make
such connections in a meaningful manner (to other artists, genres, styles,
media, etc.). If you (the educator) are always dictating what will be
learned next rather than enabling the student to determine what it is THEY
need to know next, you may be diminishing learning and knowledge into a
product rather than into a process.
Some thoughts on making the one-museum-visit (or classroom experience) more
- Engage students in discussions which create a "polylogue" (as opposed to
dialogue) between the work of art, themselves, their classmates, their world,
the museum context, etc. Allow and provide opportunities for the students to
interconnect their lives, their knowledge, their experiences to the works and
their surroundings first. A bunch of historic info doesn't mean a whole lot
until they are ready and interested; try waiting to add this until they ask!
And remember that often the information provided--by curators in wall text
or by educators as supplementary materials--offers only one point of view and
often does not discuss the many contexts which effect the work's creation and
interpretation, both historically and "contemporarily". Another tendency I
have seen is to focus on the formal qualities; this is one "lens" or method
of interpreting a work, but typically does not truly engage the viewer.
- Remember quality over quantity; it is better to focus on fewer works of art
and have meaningful polylogues if students are going to remember ANYTHING
other than how cool it was to not be in school or to be in the art room.
This can also create a desire and need to return to the museum or to the
Elizabeth B. Reese
The Pennsylvania State University