I am playing tug-of-war with me. If this blog is to serve the purpose of documenting lessons so I can learn from my experiences and make adjustments in future teaching, I really need to address this underlying issue:

(1) Do I take my time, include lots of instruction, and do fewer projects in which we apply those lessons or (2) do I move quickly through the information and reinforce as much as I can through the project, doing more of them? Does the breadth of experiences outweigh the shallowness of information?

I really wage an internal argument on this topic constantly. I took less than 10 minutes with 5th-7th grades to address the history of face jugs and examine some common features of them. I took a little over one minute to discuss distortion as an art technique. I could have done more, but we only have 50 minutes, and mostly I wanted them to create. Maybe face jugs isn’t a good example. We’ll be doing Byzantine-style madonna and child icons soon, and there is a WEALTH of info and images out there. How much time do I devote to developing a familiarity with this period of art? If I want them to incorporate some of those attributes in their own art, they need recognize them for themselves, right? I am thinking I COVET postcard art they can hold and look at up close. I have got to find a good, cheap source of that.

On the other hand, what can be more important than experiencing art for themselves? The more time I spend talking, the less they have for creating, and in the end that is another project they don’t have time for. Possibly an entire medium they don’t get to. Well, maybe not…I don’t see me allowing them to miss an entire medium in any year. But some important principle or even element, possibly. The more experiences they have, the greater their understanding and mastery of art. This is our first full year, and students who have never pounded clay have now done so. They will soon see their clay change in appearance, and they will glaze it, and be amazed at its even greater transformation! Many of these kids have played with clay, and a few even have slabs at home (!), but few really knew how to work with it. Now, hopefully, they all do. That only comes with experience.

Sometimes I think the only solution is more time to fit it all in. I don’t want to take any more from their academic time, or their PE or music. These are necessary, too. I wonder if an afterschool art club would be possible someday?

Anyway, I haven’t found an answer yet. But if I keep pulling in my tug-of-war, maybe I’ll hit a happy medium.


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