Change

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Turning Over New Leaf

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gauguin - Two Sides to Every Story







Gauguin - Two Sides to Every Story










I find it extremely interesting that the manner in which today’s students approach art is so different from what I had envisioned. For a generation that purports to be “deep,” the propensity to analyze art superficially appears to have reached epidemic proportions. I remain puzzled.

Recently, I introduced the above self-portrait of Gauguin to one of my literature classes only to discover that, with few exceptions, the only feedback received was in the nature of a listing of the obvious. The class saw a head, colors, a halo, apples, etcetera, but failed to look through the objects to the symbolism – which is exactly the way students seem to read literature today. The ability to pronounce words correctly is not analysis.

To test my observations, I introduced a poster of a young snowboarder, upside down, doing a flip in the air, atop a snow covered mountain, under a bright blue sky. The class analysis pointed out a young snowboarder, upside down, doing a flip in the air, atop a snow covered mountain, under a bright blue sky. No one noticed his personality.

Gauguin’s self-portrait is Robert Louis Stevenson, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Darth Vader without the words, music or video. A picture is worth a thousand words? I think it is up to teachers to teach, not demonstrate how to succeed on a standardized test.

By the way, those few exceptions who understood the concept of analysis are artists. Why is Art the first subject to be cut from the budget? Beats me.

7 comments:

  1. JJ: Students are not taught to think - only to solve problems. There are no discussions about opinions, only test questions and how to answer them. Facts are measurable, and therefore important. Opinions can offend others, they are bad and insignificant. Teachers get paid when the students pass the test...can you truly blame them on concentrating how to succeed on a standardized test?

    I used to teach in the public school system, and am SO GRATEFUL that I NO LONGER do it. The type of lessons that I infer you prefer are just dreams. Thanks to the importance of standardized testing, teaching is without the creativity, freedom, and excitement. Students, parents, and administration demand that the test be passed...and so there goes the concept of analysis.

    Why is art the first cut? Because created art is not measurable by facts. What is learned is a matter of opinion. It will be interesting to see how a live audience reacts to the abstract paintings this weekend at Dharma Studio. Maybe there will be a generational divide on how the art is viewed?

    Great post...I love your "Guaguins self-portrait is..." comment. So sadly true.

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  2. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I appreciate it! :) I really do take the time and thought to make my classroom reflective of how much passion I have for teaching!! Thanks JJ!

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  3. A-M: It pains me to say it, but you are soooooo right. It is so sadly true.

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  4. Jess: It is quite obvious. We can use a little more passion in our schools, and a little less negativity. Thank you.

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  5. I'm unclear on why you would show them a picture to analyze in a literature class.

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  6. Anonymous: Simply because of what Angeline-Marie said above - "Students are not taught to think..."

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