Saturday, March 13, 2010


This is a part of study reflection one of my students Marsha Silver who has taught art for over a decade:

"When I was in elementary school in the1960’s, I don’t remember having art. I know that I liked to draw and read but why don’t I remember any art? Maybe that is because I did not experience Art Education in a manner that impressed me. Some of the most important and influential artists of the ’60 and 70’s lived in my lifetime! Why did I not know about Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup (Tomato), 1968, or Rauschenberg’s Retroactive, 1964, not to mention Jasper John’s Map, 1961, or Flags, 1968? Art Education is when students acquire different techniques to learn things such as drawing, sculpting, and other artistic abilities. It also teaches about artists from the past and present. In my opinion, I think that Art Education enhances creative expression. Using the multiple aspects of art education such as art history, art criticism, art production, aesthetics and assessments provide students with a greater understanding and appreciation for art. Being organized, defining learning objectives, teaching art production, exploring art history and  making connections beyond the classroom helps students become aware of the significance and influence that art has on other subject matter and their personal lives. Art integration, again, is interdisciplinary as I said in the first paragraph. So it does not go unsaid that art and other subjects cannot interact... It is my personal opinion that everyone has their own ideas about how to use the arts in education. Isn’t teaching about sharing knowledge and experiencing the unknown?"

I think we must be aware of the generation gap between us as  art educators, the contemporary art world, and the world our students grow up in. The question is how do we who grew up in different eras can stay open to new media and ideas in art and help deliver them to our students. Our own view of art and "what counts as art" is most often formed in our early interactions with art. By the time we become teachers this view is established and we are in danger of not "moving" with the times. I think it is easy to see why a student might not hear the clearest artistic voices in that very same era. Chances are that these voices are controversial in their time, possibly even unknown to the teacher who grew up  a different era.
Once in a while we must ask ourselves, are we exposing our students to the voices and media who 30 years from now will come to be the voices representing the first decade of the 21str century? 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Place of Integrated Arts Courses in Preservice Elementary Education

This week Deborah Loewenberg-Ball visited UNL and gave a talk on the place of Schools of Education in Research Universities. You can access the powerpoint of the talk here, and soon we hope to have a video up.

One notion that I find very interesting now, as I coordinate our Elementary Education preservice program at UNL is the notion of our programs as "labs of practice in which we explore and research new and innovative ways to educate the next generation of teachers. This approach is very much in line with my thinking about the role of formative or design experiments in which rigorous curricular design and assessment are intertwined to create an innovative self- correcting structure that is focused on development not as a result of external pressures but instead of growing understanding of process and product as well as influenced by the research we do in schools.
So what that has to do with the arts? Well we have a unique opportunity to leverage what we've been learning in the field into our preservice program. In the last few years we shifted from a domain approach in arts education (a class on music, visual etc.) to an integrated experience focused on aesthetic experiences. Our masters in elementary education (MAET) program has an integrated arts education course that integrates the arts, science, and literacy in the context of place based education (in our case the prairie). We are now ready to make the arts more prominent throughout our program. I am not yet sure of what form it will take but the possibilities are truly exciting.