One of the great challenges teachers have is getting their students to connect with the material, especially when it comes to teaching history. But at the Andover Middle School, one teacher is using art to teach about the Holocaust.
Interesting article with interesting use of art integration with history!
Yesterday was just one of those really awesome days and I feel the need to share. I started my day off handing out drawing supplies to really cute children at the RISD Museum, preparing them for all of the drawing activities going on in the museum for the Big Draw. There were some phenomenal things going on and I was really excited to see what everyone was creating. I was really sad when I had to leave early to go to my part-time job at the mall. But it turned out to be a good day at American Eagle. Not only did I win two free pairs of shorts thanks to the ongoing contest among the employees, but I also got to assist a kid with his Make A Wish shopping spree.
Listening to the panel discussion after the Alive Inside premiere on Saturday at the Rubin Museum, I was disappointed to learn that many nursing homes and assisted living facilities were refusing to endorse Dan Cohen’s iPod Project (see previous posts below) because they couldn’t fund the project.
And why not? Used iPod shuffles cost as little as $49 a piece; these patients’ daily medication cost is usually much higher than that simple one-time purchase. Nope, that isn’t the issue. The problem is that these institutions would not get reimbursed by the government for endorsing this program because the impact could not be measured effectively. By effectively, they meant in numbers, in statistics that could prove the program worked.
Never mind the documentary film just released, which documented these patients awakening from their unresponsive and depressed states. Never mind that someone who had been using a walker for two years put on headphones and danced on her own. Never mind that this project opens doors to people’s souls in ways that medication never will.
Which got me thinking - isn’t this what always happens with art programming? With arts and music in schools? Why is qualitative evidence inferior to (often skewed) quantitative evidence? How long before government officials will understand that the benefits of arts education might not be able to represented purely in numbers and symbols? When will people finally understand the benefits of arts programming by listening to people’s stories? Isn’t it time already?
That’s one of our biggest challenges as art educators, and we will be tested time and time again. We need to argue for the effectiveness of qualitative research, and fight hard. Who’s with me?!
I’m with you Liz! I’m having issues trying to qualify my theories with more than generalities and restatements of ideas. If I can’t make the argument in my thesis, how can I make the argument to teachers, school administrators, and the general public?
Yesterday we had the opportunity to hear from Alex Gilliam about the projects he has been involved with through his Public Workshop. He presented a unique take on encouraging public engagement and enacting change.
Graduates from RISD’s department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design have been challenged to define our pedagogical stance through a unique and unexpected visual metaphor. We are allowed to explain our metaphor in 85 words and two accompanying images. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly my pedagogical stance is, but I think I am coming close to my general idea. Here is my first attempt at explaining my pedagogy in exactly 85 words:
I seek to recontextualize the history of objects as a series of present, lived moments to engage students in historical research, discovery, and learning. As an educator I want to create occasions for students to consider objects not as stagnant, well-preserved things, but rather as a mode through which we can critically analyze the past and the present. It is my belief that meaning is ever changing and learning can become most significant when constructed through questioning and manipulating context to form new interpretations.
I was really impressed with this presentation of Native American art at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. The interpretive strategies were well thought out. The themes of Changing, Knowing, Locating, and Voicing allowed for the curators to place historical objects alongside modern and contemporary pieces to create a new narrative that demonstrates a diversity that is rarely seen in representations of this typically marginalized group of people. For the most part I was impressed with the video consols that showcased the lives of select artists and that asked for the visitor to contribute their thoughts and feelings about the show.
I was particularly struck by Pat Pruitt’s comment about his jewelry designs: “It’s Native because I’m Native, that’s my identity.”
In depth, long term, interdisciplinary projects are the result of collaboration between the Addison Gallery of American Art and local teachers. Here are just a few of their projects that promote learning subjects like math through exploring and creating art.
A Blade of Grass focuses its energy on artists willing to push beyond the context of the gallery. According to their mission, they create “…interdisciplinary programming to foster broader, more inclusive contemporary art dialogue.” With Ernesto Pujol as one of their bloggers, I will hopefully find time to follow the ideas presented here.
As visitor participation in museums becomes more and more of a hot topic in the field of museum education, Nina Simon and her book The Participatory Museum come up more often. Her name has been mentioned by multiple professionals we have spoken with as we begin to consider ways to reinterpret the sixth floor antiquities, costumes, and textiles collections of the RISD Museum.
In addition to her book, Simon also maintains a blog titled Museum 2.0. Despite my complete lack of time, I hope to keep up with Simon as she explores innovations in museums.
Last week, my Contemporary Practices in Arts Learning class discussed experimental museum spaces, specifically the BMW Guggenheim Lab, with Rosanna Flouty. This week, the theme of experimental spaces seems to continue as my Body, Community, Globe class travelled to NY to meet with Ernest Pujol.
I was incredibly impressed by Ernesto. There are four students in my class, all of us studying very different things and taking our practices in very different places, and the entire 2.5 hours spent with Ernesto was perfectly relevant and incredibly helpful to all of us.
Looking specifically at the connections to my work, through his performances and the field school, Ernesto strives to teach about histories and develop portraits. Each site specific performance is based on local history, both the told and untold story. He seeks to look beyond the official history of the place to find the unique details that make up a people. By doing this, his performances become a portrait of the people who are participating. They become a space for the participants to reflect on and see who they are and they become a space for the casual viewer to consider this as well.
I am not doing justice to the amazing talk we heard yesterday, but it has given me a lot to think about.
The Lab is a prime example of experimental museum spaces. It offers a site for public programming with absolutely no art. Lectures, movies, tours, and games served as sites for social and scientific experimentation.