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Re:[teacherartexchange] Touching up Elementary Projects??

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From: David Lang (dlang_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2006 - 09:55:05 PDT


I teach K-6 and I don't draw/paint/whatever on kids' work, mainly because I
can't think of a good reason to do it. Touching up or correcting their work
will not really teach them anything. As a fantastic mentor teacher told me,
"Don't do anything for a student that they can do for themselves." In my
classroom, pretty much all the learning that goes on has to do with the
process of making Art, and that won't happen if I do something for a student.

That having been said, there is a sensability in the world of art (and I can
see this in some of the recent posts on this topic) that ALL our work has some
sort of sacredness. I think this idea can retard the educational process.
You can certainly go into a class with the notion that because you have put
pen to paper and created something it is now sacred and any imposition of
another person's idea is a sort of violation. What I mean to say is that
attitude will carry over into ANY critique of a work. And now you are not
really in a position to learn anything. I guess I would like my students to
be able to throw something away without a sense of loss (especially after they
have recognized any "mistakes" in their work), knowing that they will try again.

For me, the point of doing a drawing (or any artwork) is to learn something or
try something new, not to create a holy artifact. I can't imagine why anyone
would want to hang on to their work from elementary school and feel a sense of
ownership, when the best one could hope for is nostalgia. In my experience, I
didn't know enough about what I was doing in elementary, middle, or even high
school to feel any sense of "ownership" over my Art. I realize that many
people won't feel this way and I guess the question that begs is this: Is the
emotional sense of ownership innate, or is it something we instill in
education? I would make the argument that in a highly materialistic society
like ours, much of our attachments are the contrivances of our culture.

As to the analogy between teaching Art and teaching grammar, I think it is a
fair one. English is a language and so is Art. They both have rules that you
can't break with any effect unless you know them. I teach the grammar of Art,
but in a way that is designed to promote creativity (I won't claim to actually
teach creativity), just as I expect a teacher of English would.

File under: For What It's Worth
Dave

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