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Laura Hulseberg

ARTE 342
Fall 2016
Extended Reflection #7

In reflecting on Chapter 9: Curriculum Development and Lesson Planning in Making Art


Meaningful: A Practical Approach to Teaching Visual Culture, I was drawn to a particular paragraph that
discussed an all-to-common, unfortunate event in the art classroom: teachers underestimating the
conceptual abilities of their students. Teachers may associate the ability/inability to write and verbally
communicate with a students ability to conceptualize, and this is a serious misconception. Freedman
and Boughton (n.d) state, The cognitive capabilities of many students are under-estimated every year
because their visual representations are not valued as their visual representations (p. 14). Teachers
are not valuing the art that students are making as the students own individual manner of artistic
expression. Each students artistic creations should be appreciated no matter the outcome. Teachers
must accept that no two students will think the same way, and they must acknowledge that no two
students will learn about or create art the same way.
In my experience during elementary clinicals, the joy of teaching and the individual nature of
students learning is that every artistic outcome is different. Allowing students to realize his or her own
visual expressions is a truly authentic means of learning. Within this belief, I strive to create a learnercentered classroom, working as a facilitator between the students and the artistic skill and conceptual
content of the curriculum. This creates more active participation in learning, and construction of
knowledge.
While a student may be too young to be able to write or read well, or may not have an extended
vocabulary to express him or herself, this in no way should discount the importance of each students
artistic endeavors. A students drawings, paintings or sculptures may not be created with a high level of

skill, but his or her capacity for conceptual greatness is still present (Freedman & Boughton, n.d.). A
teacher or parent just needs to ask each young artist to talk about his/her creation. Students are eager
and able to tell the story behind their artwork. This discussion on the perception of student ability
offers a connection to Mary Hafelis book. The act of playing and experimenting with materials may
not be seen as an important aspect of visual representation, but it certainly is. The process of learning
about materials and their characteristics is such an important part of the learning process for artistic
minds as students actively uncover the truths of each material, and make personal connections with
them and their possibilities for expression (Hafeli, 2015). This active method of learning is supported by
educational theorist Piaget who believed that the construction and reconstruction of knowledge
occurred in relation to active experiences and experimentation. In my opinion, visual musings with
materials are just as valuable as a finished art project, quite simply for the inherent learning of the
process. In addition, the process may be just as emotionally charged and filled with narrative as the
final piece.
Teachers can use these experiments with materials that Hafeli describes in her book to allow
students the time for discovering and constructing their own knowledge in developing their own artistic
language that is full of emotion, texture and meaning. Additionally, students can learn from each other
by sharing how they made marks and how they innovate with their experimental mark making, placing
further value on each others development along the artistic pathway. When students learn from each
other, the teacher is integrating Vygotskyan theory into the classroom, otherwise known as the zone of
proximal development (Schunk, 2012). Additionally, referencing Gardners theory of multiple
intelligences, art educators must differentiate their curriculum in accordance with the learning needs of
their students. Curricular planning such as this accommodates small groups of learners, and it is also
beneficial for the whole class. Likewise beneficial, a teacher who follows Gardners theory of multiple
intelligences creates a multicultural environment by way of educational equity (Bennett, 2011).

References Bennett, C. (2011). Comprehensive Multicultural Education: Theory and Practice. Allyn & Bacon: Boston,
MA.
Freedman, K. & Boughton, D. (n.d.) Chapter 9: Curriculum Development and Lesson Planning. Making
Art Meaningful: A Practical Approach to Teaching Visual Culture. McGraw Hill: New York, NY.
Hafeli, M. (2015). Exploring Studio Materials. Oxford University Press: New York: NY.
Schunk, D. (2012). Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. Allyn & Bacon: Boston, MA.