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Lesson Plans


[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Kevin Hall (kehall)
Wed, 21 Oct 1998 19:56:02 -0700

Marcia, Ron and Listserv Members,

The response which follows is very longwinded...the authors of the
website, "Philosophers' Forum. . .", will probably be most interested.
Although, because this information is primarily student generated
commentary others might be inclined to read on....

Through information available in the "Philosophers' Forum. . . ", I have
applied some of the questions and a suggested activity in my classroom.
My sixth graders were completing an integrated unit on myths, while
creating original artworks to tell their stories. As a journal
assignment I utilized some ideas in the Classroom Forum to get students
to think about art and to determine their views on beauty. Because I'm
not an art teacher my access to quality art prints is limited. However,
at a social studies conference I did receive a sample packet of art
prints relating to "Art in World History." (Some publishers do seem to
see the importance of highlighting and utilizing art as a component in
the social studies curriculum.) For this activity I posted the
following art prints:
Nike of Samothrace (190 BC)--sculpture created in Greece
Buddha--sculpture created in China
May (1414-1416)--miniature painting by the Limbourg Brothers
The Liberated African Woman (1976)--painting by E. Okechukwu Odita
Taj Mahal (1632-1648)--architecture in Agra, India
Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1800)--painting by Jacques-Louis David
Zapatistas (1931)--wall painting/mural by Jose Clemente Orozco
Vietnam Memorial (1982)--monument by Maya Ying Lin

Students were asked to view the prints and decide if each example was
(1) not beautiful, (2) somewhat beautiful, or (3) definitely beautiful.
(The aforementioned criteria was suggested in the Classroom Forum info.
Would any of you have suggested other criteria/different or similar
wording?) In their journals students then responded to the following
What do the items designated as "definitely beautiful" have in
What do the items designated as "not beautiful" have in common?
How do you define beauty? How does beauty relate to art?

Student comments and observations seemed to be based on their own
experiences and exposure to art, as well as cultural biases. The Tah
Mahal was overwhelmingly selected as "definitely beautiful." Reasons
for this response included comments like; "symmetry, grandeur, immense
size, architectural design." Second in the "definitely beautiful"
category was May because of the "vivid colors, detail, balance and
design." The Buddha ranked most often as "somewhat beautiful". (The
majority of our student population is Asian, therefore cultural bias may
have entered into the picture.) Zapatistas was labeled "not beautiful"
most often. Reasons included "dark colors, somber, not clear, boring."
The Liberated African Woman followed as "not beautiful". Some associated
the picture with slavery--so they did not like it. Students did not get
the meaning of the word "liberated" in the title. Obviously students
lack the background for the meaning behind these last two samples.
Another piece, Nike of Samothrace, was commented on repeatedly--the
statue did not have a head and this really bothered the majority of the

Responses to the 3 posed questions included:
What do the items designated as "definitely beautiful" have in
vivid and cheerful images
bright and cheery
relaxing, makes me comfortable
What do the items designated as "not beautiful" have in common?
do not like war or violence as subject matter
dull colors
do not know what it means
sad, dark colors
cold and scary
How do you define beauty? How does beauty relate to art?
appealing to the eye
beauty is shown through colorful images or scenes
beauty is expressed through art
beauty makes you feel good
beauty is simply an opinion
people do not have to agree on what beauty is
what is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another person


Ellen Hall
(kehall--this is the address for our household)