Art Advocacy

24 09 2009

choose artI am pleased to be included in Craig Roland’s Ten Art Advocacy Videos (as well as being a featured video on The Teaching Palette). I collaborate with both blogs through my PLN.

My little video was created as a course project I took two summers ago. We had to create an artist statement for the work done in the (art ed) course. Instead of writing a paper, I created the video using Skitch, SnapzPro and iMovie. I thought I could kill two birds with one stone and also use it as a teaching philosophy tool for any future job possibilities. I have seen most of the videos Craig has included and encourage others too as well.

It’s still a sensitive topic for me when I advocate about class time for art. At various international schools in Japan, Math, Science and Language Arts usually get daily lessons for the whole year, but art usually does not. I burn through a semester’s curriculum in 5 weeks. (I better explicitly state that these are my opinions and are no way intended to be an insult to my school, admin or other schools and subjects for that matter too.)

We rotate our arts; 5 weeks visual art, 5 weeks voice, 5 weeks drama and then click repeat for semester two. Music gets it’s own slot. Is there academic hierarchy within the arts department itself? I doubt it is intentional. 5 weeks in each semester are held and then a 1-2 week cycle again at the end of the year. They receive art for two 80 minute slots a week. This basically equals to 30~32 hours a year. Not much.

I think it’s great that our grades 6~8 get exposed to all arts, but again, I find the 5 weeks a real struggle. I usually break the units down like this:

  • week 1-introduction of the topic
  • week 2-students plan their project
  • week 3 and 4-students create their project
  • week 5-presentation and evaluation of work

This doesn’t give a lot of time to experiment and create art. Usually there is only 1 finished piece. Topics are introduced, and then bang, start your project. The students do however enjoy the class and surprisingly take home some new skills and techniques. I guess I should stop whinging. Some teacher friends I have back in Canada, usually don’t have art specialists up to grade 8. Their art lessons are usually¬† part of the “draw a picture for your cover” routine. Anyway, what’s my point?

I would really like to see the day when the other ‘worthy’ subjects had to argue for their course. I mean come on, really! We go to museums, we visit galleries, we dance, we create displays, we take pictures, we decorate our homes, we usually all wish we could draw, play or perform better and some colour theory would even help coordinate our clothes better too! I could go on and on….and on…and…on. I love to ask, “Would you prefer your child studying art at university or (insert any other subject here) and why?” Parents get worried when their child wishes to pursue art at a higher level. All kids draw. Haven’t you noticed? I taught kindergarten for several years. A student never complained about drawing or painting. Why have we taken it away from them?

I do have something to look forward to. We just had 2 days worth of introduction work to the MYP which we will be implementing over a 5 year period beginning next year. I asked a few questions. I am looking forward to (hopefully) receiving the minimum 50 hours of visual art. If you have some strong opinionated views, feel free to contact me to offer guidance, support, advice, counseling or anger management.

; )



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