When adult-folk discover I teach Elementary Art- virtually all will say: “Oh, kids must love you… all kids love Art.” Which is true, children DO love art. In many subjects rules and correct answers prevail, but in Art students are encouraged to make judgments between qualitative relationships, which is a welcome escape. Kiddos continue to love Art until a limited instruction schedule inhibits further growth (one hour a week ain’t cutting it), a poor Art Instructor discourages them, or a sensitive ego causes many to give up. If it were up to me, all children would get Art instruction everyday. That’s a bone to chew another day. The reason I get steamed, is that often these kids grow into adults who say things like: “Yeah, I used to love Art when I was little, but I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler…”
Which explains why most teachers shy away from using Visual Arts to enhance their curriculum. This would be fine if it weren’t untrue. Being an Artist is less about “drawing pretty pictures,” and more about using visual media to express ideas, personal feelings, or send a message. Check that term “VISUAL MEDIA” because it can mean: photography, collage, video/ multi-media, type design, found object sculpture… You don’t need to be “Vincent Van Gogh Reincarnate” to incorporate the Arts into your curriculum.
Instead of assigning a report on Famous Americans, study American Artist Aminah Robinson and have students create their own Unwritten Love Letter. This lesson requires equivalent amounts of research, yet stimulates students to use creative thinking skills, rather than “regurgitating-facts-for-a-grade-skills.” If certain students are drawing challenged, adapt the lesson by integrating photography, lettering, and collage.
If all kids love creating and expressing themselves visually- shouldn’t you jump on this bandwagon? Here are a few Internet resources to help integrate the Visual Arts into your classroom:
- For the truly brave: http://www.moma.org/modernteachers/guides.html