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March 29, 2009

Another Thought

I have always been more of a 3-D person when it comes to art, but this book has given me a new perspective when it comes to drawing and painting. If I ever teach drawing there are some great ideas to use for students. I think one of the most important things is to be aware of your surroundings and to trust what you see. Chapter 9 really brought up a great way to explain it--getting over the preconcieved ideas. This book really reaffirms to me the importance of teaching art to every student and that everyone can do it successfully.

I have been thinking about our drawing activity and have a couple of images for you guys to look at on Tuesday. I think that we should go for a simpiler drawing--mostly line or shapes--and nothing too complicated. Let me know what you think and I'll take care of the paper and images.

Glad we're all on the same page

I'm with the rest of you. I am noticing so many things that relate to this topic as I go through my day in and outside of the classroom.

One thing that I have been paying more and more attention to is when that shift from right to left is being made in my class. I often feel that the art room is one of the few places in school where students are allowed to be more social and hopefully as a result can often bounce ideas off of each other and influence one another in their work. Still I am always reminding my students that if they can't work and talk at the same time then they need to make a choice to talk less and focus a little harder. So often when the room is getting too loud I will glance around at tables and notice that for the most part anyone who is talking is not using their hands what so ever. The more I read this book it has become clear to me that doing these things simultaneously isn't possible. Even switching back and forth constantly is prohibiting them from getting into a deeper right brain mode. On the flip side there are also moments when students are so engaged that you can hear a pin drop. When I stop them to clean up I will often hear them all complaining "already, we just got here". As a teacher I love moments like this because I know that they are engaged in a way that I often am when working on my own art. As an artist these are some of the most gratifying moments and it is fun to see student enter into that.

I have bunch of other areas where I have been seeing this connect but for now I will just add one more thought. The elementary art teachers and I are looking at a new teaching strategy called VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies). We are hoping to begin this with kindergarten and 1st grade next year. VTS is simply a way of looking at art and facilitating very open, no right or wrong, discussions about what we see. It is very much linked to visual literacy and helping kids to verbalize what they are looking at. VTS will hopefully not only strengthen the right side of their brain but form more connections between the right and the left instead of isolating the two. Reading this book has only been encouraging me to look deeper into VTS and I am excited to see how the two can support each other.

March 11, 2009

way too much time on my hands

Ok, so I finished the book. I think that the postscript would be a nice addition to Chapter three for our reading. This brings the whole book together for students and teachers. The author presents the idea that we can use the skills we have learned to help us communicate better. Let me know what you guys think-- that would put us up to 27 pages.

Amie- That is why I love making art--I get so caught up in it, kind of like my own personal nirvana. I would also be interested to know if sometime during history there was a movement to add a larger focus on art into the curriculum. I have only every attended and taught in the public school setting, but I know that arts high schools exist--The Perpich Center for the Arts has an arts focused high school and they do amazing things. I would love to see what they do differently then a regular school to get to that skill level of creative thinking.

Brad- Great example of how this instructional book on drawing/thinking applies outside of the art world. The skills that you are using are so important in many jobs, but tend to be overlooked by schools. Do you think that this creation process is one of the more difficult parts of your job? I think that one of the most challenging things in my job is anticipating the students' mistakes and using that information to prevent those misconceptions.

In the postscript they describe what a total shift to right brain thinking looks like in a classroom--The students are so engaged and focused on the task that they are silent. This is a rare moment when it happens to all 30 or so high school students all at once, but quite amazing. It happened last week in my Ceramics II class (very briefly) and it was so strange I felt like something was wrong. After reading this I realized what was happening and am looking forward to the next time this happens.
Until next time...

March 9, 2009


It seems that we’re all finding ourselves slightly more aware of our lobe actions these days! Sunday evening I was preparing for a new Art 7 course and working on our first assignment in contour drawing and coloring. I was trotting along having a good time when my hubby came in and stated “Do you have any idea what time it is?” I had told him an hour and a half earlier that I was going to begin supper shortly, but I found myself lost in the process of drawing.

In ch 3, Edwards discuses that “educators are increasingly concerned with the importance of intuitive and creative thought” but states that “nevertheless, school systems in general are skill structured in the left-hemisphere mode”. I’ve found in the last few conversations I’ve had both with educators and with parents of students that they both feel this concern for developing the creative process and are worried about what effect the cuts of the arts will have within our students success in the future. Has there been a time when the creative arts were thriving in the educational system or at least in some school settings? It might be interesting to look at the knowledge held by students enriched in the arts comparative to students with little or no access….

March 8, 2009

A response to your first thoughts

I responded the same way you did when I read the sentence about grad school. While you are reflecting on these points from the art instructor point-of-view, I am looking at this book through the lens of an instructional designer. While it might seem strange at first, there is actually quite a bit of overlap! When I design tools for work, I have to start by identifying a goal, but then there is a creative process during the brain-storming phase that requires the ability to use both sides of the brain, first from the creative right lobe inventing ideas, then from the left lobe as I think critically about how it would be adopted, the type of experience students would have, or even how it fits within a specific pedagogical context. Additionally, I have to switch back and forth as I reflect on each of these points. When I imagine a students experience with the content, resource, or tool I am considering, I have to invent scenarios that again demand the creativity only the right lobe could lend.

As a small anecdote, I was removing the stitches in the hemmed sleeve of a sweater today. After I snipped the thread, I was alternating index fingers as I pulled each thread out, much the same way you would unlace a shoe. I immediately considered the test subjects of chapter three that had their Corpus Callosum bisected, and how much trouble they would have with that activity being that their hands were operating independently!

March 7, 2009

first thoughts

Well it looks like I get to start of the discussion, the pressure is on.

I am really glad that we are reading this book--I finally understand the reasoning behind some of the ideas that I was taught and some of the things that I do naturally when I draw. The idea in Chp 7 about the basic unit really puts into words a technique that I have used to help with size and proportion, but it added more information to help me refine my technique.

I am really interested in the information in Chp 3 about the brain and how it relates to our thinking. The sentance on page 41 really shows my frustration with the current educational system-- "American scientific training through graduate school may entirely destroy the right hemisphere". This is followed by the awareness of the effects of inadequate training on the left side of the brain, but no one really cares if the right side is not trained properly. Our schools just don't realize the importance of creative thinking and because there is no way to test this knowledge it is placed at the bottom of the heap.

I completed the vase excercise and experienced the same frustration as the author and had to stop my pencil to straighten out my thoughts. It was interesting to actually feel the conflict of the left and right brain, something that I had never really noticed before.

Ok, I'll stop for now. Hopefully this will get us going.