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Let's discuss it ... in one hundred words or less!

The purpose of this column is to initiate dialogs among our readers, and to help teachers find answers to their questions. We invite you to respond via email directly to the teacher and to cc the Editor of SchoolArts at We'll share the summaries of the responses through this column. And if you have an issue or concern that you would like discussed, just send your letter to the editor, in 100 words or less! This month we are featuring two of the responses we received to issues raised in the September 2002 issue. We welcome continuation of this discussion.

Dear Editor,

In reference to the letters that appeared in the September 2002 issue, the solution for both is "teach art skills," specifically drawing.

To make art relevant to middle school kids, we can teach them the skills they need to make art of their own, and those skills begin with drawing. When students learn to draw, they grow in all sorts of areas such as motor control and perceptual awareness. They learn to estimate proportions and discern important ideas. They gain self-confidence.... From these drawing skills we can then branch into any other area of art and art history, and the students will have the confidence and the necessary skills to tackle projects with understanding....

What the Getty approach lacked (and subsequently the DBAE training for art teachers lacks) is any emphasis whatsoever on drawing skills and the basic technical foundations of art. Without these foundations, kids can only parrot back what we spoon-feed them.... With Getty's emphasis on objectives that focus on thinking about art, and not on learning technical skills, we will end up losing the interest of our students, and creating art teachers who themselves don't have the skills to teach skills to their students.

--Sandra D. (a middle school art teacher whose students can ALL draw). (Respond directly to the Editor of SchoolArts at

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the letter in the September 2002 issue of SchoolArts ... I've never heard of an algebra teacher who was concerned that the curriculum content was not "inspiring" to students. What if history teachers were concerned that the textbook was not "timely" enough to appeal to students? I don't believe our first concern should be whether our students approve of our lessons. I do think we should make them as interesting and palatable as possible. However, to go so far as to eliminate art history from the curriculum because of a lack of student appeal would be negligible.

I believe that students of all ages should be exposed to artwork from as many different cultures and time periods as possible. I tell my students they are not required to "like" any of it, but they are to explore it and explain their response. If their response is negative, they can explain why. Mission accomplished!

If they understand that artist's aims and methods, they don't have to adopt these for their own work. They do however need to come up with their own aims and methods. Here is where timeliness and appeal come in. Here is where they can express what they feel passionate about.

I have seen many art teachers who were enthusiastic about art history and that enthusiasm is contagious. For those students who are immune to this however, I believe in the "Broccoli" approach: we put it on their plate because it's good for them!

--Andrew W., Art teacher. Respond to
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Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Previous Article:Art for life and work. (Editor's Comments).
Next Article:Teacher survival kit: painting: preparing and cleaning up.

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