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Lesson Plans

color and the "greyness" of truth

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
lia (johns392)
Mon, 08 Nov 1999 09:35:08 -0600

There are several things in our field of art education that just don't have
one set of rules written in stone. In teaching post baccalaureate students
of art (students who have undergraduate degrees in art) and in looking for
"truth" about color theory when teaching elementary kids I have found that
personal experiences and books (textbooks, how-to books, informative etc.)
all vary....and have different models of some of the things in our field.
Color is one of those. (Another is the elements and principles...esp. the
principles) While there are probably some wrong ways to teach it....there
isn't one "right" way. Reading the artsednet digests reinforces that
concept that we teach how we learned. There are multiple schools of
color....both inside of our field and in physics etc. The word "tone" for
example is one that is seriously dealt with in some circles but one which I
was not trained in. I came out of a strong graphic design background and
complements mixed together were called "chromatic greys"...I have since
found this term little used in many circles. Our teachers also had their
biaes. When we studied art....also makes a difference in what we well as how we learned it.

So various models exist surrounding what is truth....or "right". I tell
kids (and adult students) the different models that I know exist
(briefly)...and then explain how we will use the language in the parameters
of the class. It is good for students to understand that these parallel
ways of understanding things and labeling things exist in life as well as
in art. Much like Woody explaining light theory.....I did this even with my
very young kids....and they had no problem with it.

I spell grey with an e. More often it is spelled with an a. Gray. Both
are correct. We talk about both spellings and land on the one that the
curriculum ascribes to....these days...gray. I call brown a color....but
while that is accepted in many schools of thought much curriculum calls it
a neutral. Here I think is a key for helping. Kids do need some
consistency and perhaps therein lies some of the benefit of having
something in place district wide (or school wide) to refer to. I advise my
student teachers that the curriculum guidelines should be their guide to
how to use vocabulary. What we call color terms is more arbitrary than
"right" and the critical issue is if we understand the "effects" that are
achieved with them. Don't have a curriculum..? Find one and use that as a
framework for a guide.

The discussion is beneficial in that it helps us understand the subtleties
of language ....and further our own understanding of the complexities of
what we teach. An additional complexity is that truth new
layers of understanding are peeled......just what we needed.


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  • Reply: LM Paris: "Re: color and the "greyness" of truth"