Saturday, October 4, 2008

Devalued

I am finally getting into the groove with teaching art classes for the school year. I have noticed that at the beginning of the year my lesson plans were very detailed and outlined practically my every move. Now I am comfortable enough to approach my classes with more flexibility, and I have even improvised a couple of lessons by changing the subject matter at nearly the last minute before class.

One thing I am noticing in my short time of teaching is the value that is put on the art activities. With the younger children, much more value is given to their efforts. I say this because I have noticed that after most lessons, their art pieces are often carefully stacked and then later displayed on the walls for all to see.

However, with the older grades, after the lesson is over, the students' artwork is simply shoved aside, often placed under school books, in order to get ready for the next subject to be learned in class. Little value is given to their creative experience, by both the students and the teachers of the older grades. It is just another activity that they have to get through.

It is disappointing to me because my job is to help promote and encourage the arts in schools, and it seems to be make it an uphill battle when the teachers have little regard for the students' artistic efforts.

I think part of this attitude reflects our society's overall outlook on the arts. For some reason the arts are of little value in our society. They might be considered an enjoyable pastime for some, and after retirement it is a good way to stay active and keep the mind interested before one's twilight years. But the arts generally seem to have no practical value or application in our society.

2 comments:

freebird said...

My dad used to say the San Diego symphony kept going broke because they didn't go to the grade schools and show the kids what their music was like. I agree. Your being there to teach art is a very good thing. Part of your job is to teach the kids and their parents the value of it which is a hard thing to do. I think along with all the other school nights the schools should have an art night where the kids art is hung on the walls of the cafeteria for all to see. It could go along with a song or two from the music class and a skit from drama. Wouldn't that help? By the time the kids are older they've learned that art doesn't matter. Think about that next time you sit in an ugly or uncomfortable chair, eat off a pretty plate or feel good when you see the Christmas decorations - it's all art! Kids aren't getting the whole picture of art. Our society as you say, doesn't get it. That makes your job harder but so much more important! Keep it up. My daughter does get it. She's made a gallery for her kids art. I wish more parents would do so.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Thoughtful essay. (I agree with what you've said, of course!!) Perhaps 60 seconds of a written journal entry (yeah, I teach journal-writing-for-health)where the student can reflect on what they did and did not enjoy about the process. As an adult student, I am delighted that my instructor takes digital photos of every completed work and sends them to all the other students with HER positive spin on the image.
Would your students have access to a school room blog? (Bypasses clueless parents and other teachers AND helps the kids validate themselves... always a good thing for an artist!)