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    NPR Wrote About Art Ed!

    It's about time. I wrote some comments for them to chew on. Take a look:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=105441934


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    Linguini is offline (n.) pasta in long, slender, flat strips.
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    Wow, this particular comment of yours stood out to me:

    Quote Originally Posted by TASmith
    I don't care if a student can tell a clarinet from an oboe, in a recording. I want a student who can play a clarinet. I don't care if a students can tell a Warhol from a Ghirlandaio. I want a student who can paint like Warhol or Ghirlandaio.
    How true! I now appreciate my education even more, as I attended a fine arts school. It's a public school, so even though the arts are pretty much what the school is based on, it was hard to find the funding to buy all the art supplies we needed.

    I'm not sure which age/grades you teach, but the AP Studio Art courses are good for high school, as you probably already know. I believe you said that you dislike things like giving students the same prompt so that they produce similar artwork. For the AP exam students produce their own portfolios (24 pieces for Drawing and 2-D, 20 pieces for 3-D) so I think it's better than what you were saying before. Of course, the grading system for that is a bit wonky, but I do think that it allows students to be more independent and explore their own interests and develop their own style.
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    And it's not that I don't care about those things, but it's secondary to actually teaching students to be competent artists and musicians, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Linguini View Post

    I'm not sure which age/grades you teach, but the AP Studio Art courses are good for high school, as you probably already know. I believe you said that you dislike things like giving students the same prompt so that they produce similar artwork. For the AP exam students produce their own portfolios (24 pieces for Drawing and 2-D, 20 pieces for 3-D) so I think it's better than what you were saying before. Of course, the grading system for that is a bit wonky, but I do think that it allows students to be more independent and explore their own interests and develop their own style.
    As someone who's actually taken an AP Studio Art class, it really is very good. It's definitely got more freedom than most art courses.

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    AP seems about the only way a school can structure a decent course, but I don't know much about it, or how dependent it is on teachers. Do teachers get certain lessons they're supposed to teach, or is it pretty much up to each teacher to create a course from scratch, that meets certain demands?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TASmith View Post
    AP seems about the only way a school can structure a decent course, but I don't know much about it, or how dependent it is on teachers. Do teachers get certain lessons they're supposed to teach, or is it pretty much up to each teacher to create a course from scratch, that meets certain demands?
    I believe there's a curriculum of some sort determined at a national level.

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    Linguini is offline (n.) pasta in long, slender, flat strips.
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    Yes, the teachers have to create their own courses and partition their time wisely. The problem with AP courses is when a teacher has too many students - then he/she doesn't have the amount of time that is needed to go over each student's portfolio and refine them. Most of the responsibility falls heavily on students to meet the deadline and create their own pieces and ideas. Basically...

    AP DRAWING (traditional media)
    I. Quality - 5 pieces submitted to College Board for graders to see in person.
    II. Concentration - 12 images, created and arranged like a series, centered around a central idea; must show progression through the pieces in maturity, technique, etc... (12 images because some can be details.)
    III. Breadth - 12 pieces showing the artist's foundation in artistic principles and use of various media.

    AP 2-D DESIGN (more design-based, can be digital, photography, etc.)
    The same sections as AP Drawing.

    AP 3-D DESIGN (three-dimensional works; ceramics, wire, wood, anything really...)
    I. Quality - 5 pieces, two views of each, not actually mailed to College Board.
    II. Concentration - 12 images, one view, much like the Drawing and 2-D concentrations as in it is based around a central idea and shows progression. Some images can be second views.
    III. Breadth - 8 pieces, two views of each, showing experimentation and experience.

    The quality section's pieces can be made up of pieces from the concentration and breadth.


    At my school, the teachers still gave out some prompts to all the students in the same AP course for their breadth section and set up some still lifes, but students' portfolios are always diverse since there are so many opportunities for students to "do their own thing." We all developed our own concentration ideas, but of course the teacher had to agree to it and such.
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    Ok, so did your teacher have you start independently from day one, or were there some exercises to get you going? Did your teacher give any demos? Any lectures on art history or genres, mixed in with studio time? Were there requirements to get into the AP art courses? Were they for juniors or seniors only? Also, what kind of school did you go to, because most of the ones I worked in, didn't even have AP art courses.

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    Linguini is offline (n.) pasta in long, slender, flat strips.
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    1. Yeah, the beginning of the year is always slow because everyone is getting back from summer break, so we usually got some exercises to ease us in. Of course, we had sketchbook assignments for the summer and some art history stuff, but still, everyone's kind of lethargic and not ready for school. An example...if you're in Drawing, you did some figure drawings in the first week and then an assignment like, illustrate a story or something. The first couple of days is usually talking about what AP actually is and the timeline we should get things done.

    2. Demos...they were scarce. I remember the year I was in AP Drawing the teacher introduced us to oil painting, but she didn't necessarily paint herself, she just told us what to do and posed for us. The only real demos I remember in school were in graphic design for Illustrator, but I only took the beginning class so I'm guessing there were probably higher-level demos in Photoshop and stuff in those classes, but they aren't AP.

    3. Er, no. My school isn't big on art history, lol. The only history and periods stuff we really learned was when we had to look it up for the summer assignments. There is an AP Art History, though.

    4. My school is 6-12, so most students have taken art from sixth grade. The teachers basically know you and what level you're on and assess if you can handle AP or not. More or less, you have to have taken Art IV/V to go on to AP. If you entered in high school or you didn't take many art classes up until then but you showed them previous work, you could probably get in that way. But like I said, mostly it's students who have taken art many years.

    5. Now, yes, only juniors/seniors can take art. A few years ago, they allowed sophomores in AP Drawing so that's what I took (therefore I took all three AP Studio Art courses). That was just when two teachers left and had to be replaced by new ones (we have three teachers in all) so it was pretty hectic, and since then the teachers have settled in and they realized this year that they shouldn't allow sophomores to take AP just because it takes a lot more work. I think now they're thinking of doing "pre-AP," kind of, and getting students who will be eligible for AP their junior year to create some portfolio pieces now so that they kind of get two years to create their portfolio. My high school years in art were pretty jumbled because of the whole teacher thing - now they probably have it all smoothed out and the system works better.

    6. I went to a public fine arts magnet school, so it was focused on the arts.
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    Thanks for all that info, Lingiuni. I guess the main thing I'm trying to say here is we're talking about the future of art education throughout all public, k-12 schools. Your school puts you in the 1% or so that actually got a decent art education in school.

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    This might be derailing the thread a bit but, you're an art teacher right, TASmith? How do you students react to you and the work you give them? Do they enjoy it or get upset over the work? In my highschool, art classes were the easy classes to take and talk all hour instead of doing any work. The teacher never made the students work very hard, and gave A's to very mediocre/half-assed work. I would have really enjoyed a teacher who helped push me along(which mine didn't) but I bet other average students would whine and complain. What are you students like?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TASmith View Post
    And it's not that I don't care about those things, but it's secondary to actually teaching students to be competent artists and musicians, etc.
    Actually, to a certain extent I have to disagree with you there. While I agree that students who want to paint should be taught to paint, and students who want to play clarinet or oboe should be taught those things, I think that for the sake of general education EVERYBODY should be familiar with Gershwin and Wagner, Picasso and Bierstadt.

    Society does not need everyone to be artists. As much as I hate to say it, in terms of jobs that our future generations will face, they will need more training conducive to office work and used car sales than concept art. However, being culturally aware, understanding how art, history, and culture are intertwined, is knowledge that I think would benefit our culture as a whole more than every child knowing how to be a musician or artist.

    Also, I think that everyone having a knowledge and respect for the arts will actually be a strong force in what drives people to want to try being an artist for themselves.

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    hehehehe AP Studio Art huh? Must be nice to have that kind of opportunity. My high school in rural North Carolina had 3 AP classes, Math, English, and later Biology. For "art" there was one class out in a trailer behind the main building that you could take multiple times with the teachers approval. I never took it as it seemed like all that ever came out of the classes were grid copies of photos, of either the girlfriend, a car, or their parents (for a present) and the teacher was the same guy who had taught my elementary school art classes. My mom is an artist though so I got most/all of my early training from her.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coene View Post
    Society does not need everyone to be artists. As much as I hate to say it, in terms of jobs that our future generations will face, they will need more training conducive to office work and used car sales than concept art. However, being culturally aware, understanding how art, history, and culture are intertwined, is knowledge that I think would benefit our culture as a whole more than every child knowing how to be a musician or artist.

    Also, I think that everyone having a knowledge and respect for the arts will actually be a strong force in what drives people to want to try being an artist for themselves.
    Society doesn't need everyone to be professional artists, however I think if more people took an artists approach (ie creative problem solving, and the creation of personal "culture" )to the things in their lives we would have, as a whole, a more empowered, and generally more satisfied population. Consumerism has completely replaced the satisfaction of learning to, then actually creating your own thing, be it furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc..with the fleeting, temporary satisfaction of purchasing something you've been told is better than anything you could've made. All so someone can make more money. Our cultural identities now are shaped by the things that are marketed to us and we buy, rather than being things that we've actually created and are a real expressions of us, and not just package A, B, C, or D. It's happened across the cultural spectrum. Food, music, clothing, home decor, everything anthropologists and archeologists dig up about other cultures and use to distill information about those people, we've handed over for the sake of someone elses profit. The spectacle of it all distracts us from realizing that we live inside a commercial from which we as individuals derive little to no benefit. This leads to alienation, dehumanization and depression that seem to have no definite source...this sort of "modern malaise." I just think that giving our culture away to corporations to sell back to us is cutting out something deeply connected to our everyday happiness and mental well being, and if more people were "artists" then we could reclaim some of that birthright.

    Also I think training in drawing and painting tunes the senses to a level they previously didn't operate on. It makes sense when you think about how much people work out their physical bodies. Why shouldn't the same effort be put into training our senses, and our minds? The short answer seems to be, because training our bodies affects our physical health, which is all we've been trained to believe is important. Mental health issues continue to have difficulty being recognized even to this day. The sensory issue is even worse I think. We practically live in sensory deprivation without even acknowledging it. Our senses are dumbed down to the level that we think experiencing something on television is a good enough simulacrum to consider that experience enough to "know something about" whatever was presented. We've become convinced that the only reason for a smell is bad sanitation. I think most untrained people probably don't even believe their awareness of the world around them can be expanded.

    ...sorry I can rant about this shit all day, I'll cut myself off now
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    "This might be derailing the thread a bit but, you're an art teacher right, TASmith? How do you students react to you and the work you give them? Do they enjoy it or get upset over the work? In my highschool, art classes were the easy classes to take and talk all hour instead of doing any work. The teacher never made the students work very hard, and gave A's to very mediocre/half-assed work. I would have really enjoyed a teacher who helped push me along(which mine didn't) but I bet other average students would whine and complain. What are you students like?"

    Right now, my skills as a native English speaker have gotten me a job teaching English. My high school students are beginners and they whine and complain. My adult students want to learn and enjoy conversation, reading, films, etc. I'm going to put a portfolio together and show a local art center. Maybe I could teach there instead next year. Teaching English, giving and grading tests, and being yelled/sworn at each day by problem students is crushing my soul.

    "Actually, to a certain extent I have to disagree with you there. While I agree that students who want to paint should be taught to paint, and students who want to play clarinet or oboe should be taught those things, I think that for the sake of general education EVERYBODY should be familiar with Gershwin and Wagner, Picasso and Bierstadt. Society does not need everyone to be artists."

    Peter, you're absolutely right, and introducing students to these artists is one of the greatest ways to inspire and encourage them, which is the main part of teaching beginners. And, yes, not everyone needs to be an artist. What I'm saying is that, in order to truly appreciate these artists, children need to try it, and see how hard it is. Looking at it in a book just isn't enough. The way most art programs are run these days, students don't even get the chance to try - so there's no true appreciation in addition to no real skills taught. Nothing's more disappointing than looking in a highschool art room, and seeing the supplies are just elmers, scissors, crayons, construction paper, a few pencils, pipe cleaners, colored feathers, etc. Only a few of the supplies are archival, most of its dusty and moth eaten.

    Just as an example story, I had a really good professor for figure sculpture - his works were incredible (life size comic-style villains carved in plaster). He brought us outside the MFA to a huge, abstract sculpture by DeKooning. He said, you know, for a long time I didn't know what to think of this. But then I got into bronze casting and saw how hard it was. Now I look at this huge thing and think, wow, how did he do that? How'd he get that part to jut out like that and stay there?"

    Cthogua, I can't agree with you more. Perfectly said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cthogua View Post
    Society doesn't need everyone to be professional artists, however I think if more people took an artists approach (ie creative problem solving, and the creation of personal "culture" )to the things in their lives we would have, as a whole, a more empowered, and generally more satisfied population. Consumerism has completely replaced the satisfaction of learning to, then actually creating your own thing, be it furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc..with the fleeting, temporary satisfaction of purchasing something you've been told is better than anything you could've made. All so someone can make more money. Our cultural identities now are shaped by the things that are marketed to us and we buy, rather than being things that we've actually created and are a real expressions of us, and not just package A, B, C, or D. It's happened across the cultural spectrum. Food, music, clothing, home decor, everything anthropologists and archeologists dig up about other cultures and use to distill information about those people, we've handed over for the sake of someone elses profit. The spectacle of it all distracts us from realizing that we live inside a commercial from which we as individuals derive little to no benefit. This leads to alienation, dehumanization and depression that seem to have no definite source...this sort of "modern malaise." I just think that giving our culture away to corporations to sell back to us is cutting out something deeply connected to our everyday happiness and mental well being, and if more people were "artists" then we could reclaim some of that birthright.

    Also I think training in drawing and painting tunes the senses to a level they previously didn't operate on. It makes sense when you think about how much people work out their physical bodies. Why shouldn't the same effort be put into training our senses, and our minds? The short answer seems to be, because training our bodies affects our physical health, which is all we've been trained to believe is important. Mental health issues continue to have difficulty being recognized even to this day. The sensory issue is even worse I think. We practically live in sensory deprivation without even acknowledging it. Our senses are dumbed down to the level that we think experiencing something on television is a good enough simulacrum to consider that experience enough to "know something about" whatever was presented. We've become convinced that the only reason for a smell is bad sanitation. I think most untrained people probably don't even believe their awareness of the world around them can be expanded.

    ...sorry I can rant about this shit all day, I'll cut myself off now
    Thats a lot to reply to. I agree with the spirit of what you say, but I think the term "artist's approach" is a bit of a misnomer. I like thinking of it more as a "creative approach." Its not that the rest of the world should be copying artists but instead that creativity should be intrinsic to our society and we as artists should just be an extension of that.

    However, I don't think that the way to foster that creativity is through training students in the arts but rather through creating an environment that first creates a cultural surrounding for their upbringing and second inspires them in their own creativity. Instead of giving them a brush and telling them how to paint I believe we should show them what has been done before and glorify it, giving them a desire to seek out and find instruction for themselves. If thus inspired those who are determined will find what they want. Otherwise you'll find yourself surrounded by kids who are just as bored by their piano lesson as they are by solving for "x."

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    I agree with Peter. If everyone was an artist, who would buy our stuff? Teaching people to appreciate art makes a market, but it’s what they’re taught to appreciate should be the question.

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