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ARTE 344

Freedman Facilitations
TEACHING VISUAL CULTURE: CURRICULUM, AESTHETICS,
AND THE SOCIAL LIFE OF ART BY KERRY FREEDMAN
NINA MANDILE
FACILITATION SHEET

Title:
Teaching Visual Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics, and the Social life of Art

Author(s):
Dr. Kerry Freedman

Source/Date:
Freedman, K. (2003). Chapter 2: Finding Meaning in Aesthetics. In Teaching Visual
Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics and the Social Life of Art (pp. 23-42). New York:
Teachers College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


The purpose of the chapter is to provide a historical and philosophical background
that explains the reasons why American art education curriculums are taught the way
they are. Freedman discusses the way that American schools teach these curriculums has
conditioned students to analyze art with a separation of form and content and to remove
the context of time and place. All of these elements should be discussed together.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


Freedman discusses many of the issues involved with using formalism as that
basic theoretical approach to teaching art education. Unfortunately, it is what most
American curriculum uses. Freedman states that “models like this suggest objects can be
appropriately taught as if they’re outside the context of time and place,” (Freedman,
2003, p. 27) when referring to formalism models being used in American art education
curriculum. Separating a work from its time and place eliminates a great amount of its
content, which is not the best way to approach teaching art education. In addition,
“formalism closes off symbolic interpretation as a critical foundation of art education,’
(Freedman, 2003, p. 22-42).

Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):


I find it frustrating that after graduating high school I have learned that elements
of art were created to simplify teaching art. This formalist approach to analyzing artwork
does not include an exploration of the artwork’s use, function, or social impact, which are
all important things to consider. This suggests that works can be taught as if they’re
outside the context of time and place, which is never the case. In the classroom, I would
like to change this so that all aspects of an artwork are discussed at the same time. The
work’s history, elements, and content will all be brought up together so that the
connection between each of these become more apparent for students.
FACILITATION SHEET

Title:
Teaching Visual Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics, and the Social life of Art

Author(s):
Dr. Kerry Freedman

Source/Date:
Freedman, K. (2003). Chapter 3: The Social Life of Art. In Teaching Visual
Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics and the Social Life of Art (pp. 43-62). New York:
Teachers College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


In this chapter, Freedman (2003) discusses the history of art and its influence of
how art is assessed today. By understanding and recognizing the different lenses in which
art can be created and viewed through, the value of artwork and visual culture begins to
reform. We can help break down student beliefs that only certain artworks or styles are
“good” or “valuable,” and inspire them to challenge their beliefs by creating and viewing
work through these different lenses.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


Freedman (2003) begins by discussing art history in general and how our
understanding of art history is flawed. She says, “history is not the past; it is the
reconstruction of the past. Because the past is made up of people and events to which we
no longer have direct access, history involves interpretations of remnants of those events
and the objects created by those people” (Freedman, 2003, p. 44). She explains that art
history classes are based upon interpretations of historical events combined with research
of artworks, but these interpretations tend to leave out social and political contexts
because of the nature of interpretation. However, this context is extremely important
when analyzing an artwork, as it gives viewers more information about the inspiration
and intention behind a piece. So, using history as the sole method to measure what is
good and bad in artwork is not appropriate or still accurate.

Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):


When I attended DePaul University, I took a class on Feminist History. In the
class, we talked about how important women were in movements such as The
Enlightenment. I thought it was interesting how different the class content was from a
traditional history class. The feminist class made it feel as if women were the only
contributors to history. This made me realize how biased information can be, not only in
history classes, but all contexts. Being aware of different lenses when receiving
information is important. In order to be truly unbiased, we must collect information from
all perspectives when putting together our own, cohesive understanding of a topic.
I also think that it is important that teachers are aware of their authority affecting
the students’ knowledge, for example, if a teacher only teaches about female artists, it
may imply to students that only females create art, whereas the teacher may not realize
the students do not know that all genders make art. It is crucial that teachers present
information from all perspectives, so that students remain unbiased. Learning about
different pedagogies in this class has helped prepare me for doing this in my own
classroom. I now know of the existence of all of these perspectives and have some
research behind each. In the art classroom, I can integrate artists of all backgrounds such
as female, homosexual, heterosexual, transgendered, African-American, Latino, Native-
American, etc. as well as the traditional white male artists, such as Van Gough, from art
history. Providing an even combination of all perspectives will, hopefully, build a well-
rounded knowledge of art and visual culture for the student.
FACILITATION SHEET

Title: Chapter Four: Art and Cognition

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: Freedman, K. (2003). Finding Meaning in Aesthetics. In Teaching visual


culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and the social life of art. New York, NY: Teachers
College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


In this chapter, Freedman (2003) discusses cognitive development in children and
how we must apply cognitive skills in curriculum. Being mindful of the cognitive
development in children and adolescents is important because it affects the way they see
and interpret art and visual culture, which in turn, affects how they create artwork. This
knowledge of cognitive development should affect the way cognition, thinking, art, and
visual culture are being applied together in the classroom.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


Freedman (2003) begins by mentioning that we do not often think about things
critically, for example, we watch commercials all the time, but we do not think critically
about the ad and the information that we are consuming. But, we can only think critically
about it in relation to knowledge we already have. “Education and other sociocultural
experiences influence our thinking, which becomes transformed into those personal and
cultural approaches to the world” (Freedman, 2003, p. 64). In other words, we can only
think critically with the knowledge we have gained from education and life experience.
Our education and experiences will also shape how we approach other forms of education
and experience. This is especially important in understanding why some people are not
interested in certain subjects or works of art. According to Freedman (2003), “when
viewers, do not have a critical understanding of visual culture, looking at art . . . can seem
a waste of time because they may not be connected to the viewer’s previous, complex
knowledge” (Freedman, 2003, p. 65). Humans are afraid of what they don’t know.
Freedman later discusses sociological approaches to development, which she
applies similarly. She mentions research done by Piaget and Wilson and Wilson, which
showed that “children learn to draw from many cultural sources, including other children,
the mass media, and other adult forms of representation” (Freedman, 2003, p. 75). So,
even from a sociological perspective, knowledge is still based on education and
experience. A child is never going to draw cartoons in the style of Anime or Manga if
they have never experienced it, for example. A student may always draw stick figures
until they are introduced to another form of drawing a person. In the classroom, it is
important that teachers are consciously aware of these experiences with learning.

Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):


I was especially interested in this chapter because of its connections to
psychology and psychobiology. In my psychology classes, we surprisingly never
discussed anything like Freedman’s explanation of relative knowledge and interest. It
would have been interesting to dive deeper into motivation of learning in some of my
psychology classes so that I knew more about what keeps students’ interest in a
classroom.
Interest is something that worries me, though. As the world quickly progresses, I
am nervous that I will not keep up and my teaching methods and materials will become
quickly outdated. I always joke that I will be the teacher that asks the class for fifteen
minutes how to turn the hologram on, but a scenario like this is not unlikely. For
example, I hardly know how to use Adobe programs, especially Adobe Photoshop and
Illustrator. This worries me because these are such prevalent programs in the art world
today. I want to be able to take classes using them, but because I have no experience, I
am not interested, like Freedman discusses. I do not want my students to feel the same
way in my classes. I want students to be engaged and have some sort of connection and
interest in the class material, but this means that I need to keep up with rapidly changing
visual culture. This may not be difficult now, but as I get older it will get harder.
I want to find a way to critically connect memes to visual culture create lessons
around memes. Students are engulfed in social media and memes, so if I can find a way
to connect this to the classroom, students will be engaged. Memes are definitely a form of
visual culture, but finding a way to appropriately connect them to a lesson and create
critical thinking questions to apply to memes will be more difficult, as not all of them
have a meaning. But, many memes question aspects of society and politics, which I can
start with, and then slowly transition to modern artists that do the same but with different
medium. Providing this base knowledge will hopefully help transition students’ interest
to modern art and to creating their own.
FACILITATION SHEET

Title:
Teaching Visual Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics, and the Social life of Art

Author(s):
Dr. Kerry Freedman

Source/Date:
Freedman, K. (2003). Chapter 5: Interpreting Visual Culture. In Teaching Visual
Culture: Curriculum, Aesthetics and the Social Life of Art (pp. 86-105). New
York: Teachers College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


This chapter examines how art educators can most effectively create curriculum
using visual culture and why it is important that visual culture is analyzed and interpreted
in the classroom. Art educators should promote viewing visual culture and analyzing its
meaning, cultural context, and associations. In doing this, student emotional and
cognitive responses should be reflected upon, in turn affecting how one experiences the
world around them.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


Freedman (2003) discusses the importance of understanding the cultural context
of a work of art and how it affects interpretation. “In order to understand visual culture
and maintain the integrity of the artist and the culture in which it was created, the context
of production must be taken into account” (Freedman, 2003, p. 88). The cultural context
of a work is what makes it possible. For students, visual culture is extremely important in
this application. The visual culture they see every day affects what they think, feel, and
believe, therefore affecting the artwork they create. This is the same for the artists whose
work we interpret, so it is important that students understand the contextual connection so
that their analysis and critical thinking skills can improve.
Freedman (2003) also discusses the ways that critical reflection is important in
curriculum. She states that “students can broaden their understanding of interpretation
and their interpretive skills by finding their own personal and cultural meanings,
comparing, combining, and challenging these with the interpretations of others to
increase associations and build complexity” (Freedman, 2003, p. 93). Using personal
critical reflection and interpretation allows students to, in a way, practice for when they
are interpreting the works of other artists and the visual culture they encounter daily.

Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):


This chapter was extremely eye-opening regarding the importance of critical self-
reflection. When teaching at St. Mary’s, a lot of my students repetitively asked my why
they needed to write an artist statement, yet I didn’t have much of an answer for them. At
first, I explained that is it important that they are able to articulate the meaning of their
work to their viewers and reflect upon what their strengths and weaknesses are. However,
they continued to ask why they needed to write one and begged me not to. Eventually, I
jokingly gave them the answer that “the man” was requiring that we write them, which
they laughed about, but felt the same way as my first answer.
After reading this chapter, I realized that reflecting upon one’s own work and
one’s own cultural context and influences is like practicing for interpreting the work of
others. I was under the impression that artist statements were important for only yourself
and your viewers, which they are, but they are also a way to practice viewing other visual
culture.
In my future classroom, I would like to use this idea of reflection being a tool. I
would have students create an artist statement for a piece of visual culture that is not their
own, but in the way, that they would write their own artist statement. For example, if a
student chose a video game, they would describe the visual components of the game,
interpret the meaning of the game and any underlying themes, and then critique what
parts of the game were visually strong and which parts needed work. After doing a few of
these short assignments, I would have students write their own artist statement about one
of their works in the same format. Then, I would have students either write another or
have a class discussion about a different piece of visual culture in the same format. I
think that this might be able to help drive the point home of how to analyze your own
artwork and think critically about visual culture and contextual environments. Students
may understand why artist statements are important after seeing real world application.
FACILITATION SHEET

Title: Chapter 7 – Art.edu: Technological images, artifacts, and communities

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: Freedman, K. (2003). Art.edu: Technological images, artifacts, and


communities. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and the social life of art.
New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


In this chapter, Freedman (2003) discusses different types of curriculum,
especially democratic and post-modern, and how curriculum can be used as a tool for
social change. Not only that, but she emphasizes the importance and usefulness of
incorporating visual culture into the classroom so that students are able to connect to
class material and develop a deeper understanding.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


In the beginning of the chapter, Freedman (2003) defines different types of
curriculum and planning, and explains a brief history about how each aspect developed
its importance. For example, democratic curriculum includes “levels of participation and
contestation,” as well as the “discussion of controversial issues by students in an open
intellectual climate, [which] is associated with higher levels of political interest, efficacy,
and knowledge” (Freedman, 2003, p. 107). This intellectual discussion is important in
helping students figure out their own moral compass and to make sense of the world
outside of the classroom. This interaction between students is the most important part in
postmodern curriculum theory. Curriculum and lesson creation for art education is
especially difficult due to this emphasis on interaction. “Objectives can be planned, but
important learning outcomes cannot always be predicted . . . the best outcomes are often
those that are beyond “the box” of the objectives in their creativity, imaginativeness, and
originality” (Freedman, 2003, p. 112-3).
Freedman (2003) also discusses how important connections and experiences are
in building a student’s knowledge. It is important that prior knowledge is connected to
newly presented knowledge, and that students have social educational experiences, so
that information is better understood and remembered. Increasing the experience tied to
an image is important because “the images we have encountered in the past become
attached to associations related to the context in which we saw them, including the
context of thoughts about or the conceptual space between previous experiences.” When
connecting prior knowledge to a new image, a stronger understanding will occur when
more experience is tied to it. “This process, then, enables us to comingle images, make
associations between them, recycle and change them, as we restructure knowledge and
create new images and art” (Freedman, 2003, p. 121). This process of cognition is
extremely important in contextualizing and applying knowledge outside of the classroom,
but is also a huge challenge in developing a curriculum that promotes this.
Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):
I have experienced the topics of this chapter to be true as a student. I have always
remembered much more class content when I participated in a class discussion rather
than information being presented to me as I take notes. In high school I had very few
classes where we had class discussions, but I remember those classes the most vividly.
This is because I was learning in a social experience and I had more information (social,
critical thinking, participation, etc.) to tie to the knowledge. Currently, I am in American
Sign Language classes. I am often asked what the class is like, and I tell people that we
are not allowed to use any English, not that we could anyway because my professor is
Deaf. People are always shocked and ask if the class is hard. I always tell them that I love
it because it is this way. Spanish was hard for me to learn in high school because it was
presented to me. In ASL, information is presented, but the class is set up in a circle so
everyone can sign to each other, more than half of the class we work in groups or
partners, and it is overall more social. The most important component is that there is no
English. This forces us to figure out what a sign means due to its context or by asking
questions using the few signs we know. People in the class will sometimes help, making
it a social experience. Once I figure out the meaning of a sign in this way, I always
remember it. This social experience combined with problem solving attaches an
experience to my newly learned knowledge, making it more memorable.
Before reading this chapter, I found this idea to be quite obvious. Freeman
attached more history and research to it, but through experience I was able to figure out
that this was a much more enjoyable and effective way to learn. As a teacher, I want to
employ this kind of learning in my classroom, but as Freedman (2003) mentions, it is
difficult developing a curriculum that promotes this because “important learning
outcomes cannot always be predicted” (Freedman, 2003, p.112-3). In addition, you never
know how long it will take students to arrive at a point that you want them to.
Sometimes, it may take two minutes when you thought it would take twenty, and
sometimes it takes the whole class when you thought it would take five minutes. It is
difficult to balance out wanting students to participate and learn most effectively, and
wanting to get through material. I’m sure through experience this balancing act will
become easier, but for right now I have had a hard time. For example, for St. Mary’s I cut
a lot of discussion aspects from my lesson because I desperately wanted students to finish
their paintings. They now may have not taken away as much of the lesson as I originally
wanted them to. One of my goals as a future educator is to find this balance between
finishing work and allowing students to learn through experience. I want my students to
end the year with knowledge they are able to apply outside of the classroom, and this is
made possible with social experience education integrated into the curriculum.
FACILITATION SHEET

Title: Chapter 7 – Art.edu: Technological images, artifacts, and communities

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: Freedman, K. (2003). Art.edu: Technological images, artifacts, and


communities. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and the social life of art.
New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


This chapter discusses how prevalent technology is in the lives of students and
how it should not be ignored as a component of visual culture. There are positive and
negative aspects to all forms of technology that students interact with, so it is important
that teachers help students critically analyze these and do not fail to include digital forms
of visual culture into the classroom.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


Freedman (2003), begins the chapter by explaining how visual technologies can
be art. First, she explains that video games can be educational as well as an art form.
“They are problem-solving simulations, entertaining games, and examples of computer
art” (Freedman, 2003, p. 131). Video games can be addicting, though. But, because they
are such powerful components of visual culture, so much so that they are addicting, it
would be foolish to not include video games into the category of visual culture. The
example of The Blair Witch Project is used to demonstrate how students are able to use
technology to create art, and to use artistic problem solving to create solutions. The
movie was created by students who used their low-quality cameras as main aspect of the
film. This is a great example in showing how “students can shape the media by crossing
over high and low tech boundaries” (Freedman, 2003, p. 134).
After explaining how visual technology is art and how it is beneficial, Freedman
(2003) discusses how students can use technology in the art classroom. Like non-
technological art materials, students experience technological artmaking best when in
groups, whether it be sharing a computer or sharing ideas via email. In addition, students
“often find that the most stimulating aspect of their work is the “trial and error” capacity
of the technology,” just like non-technological materials have the capability to do
(Freedman, 2003, p. 138). However, unlike traditional media, changes can be made
without permanent changes to the original. In the classroom, it is also beneficial for
students to watch art, both videos of art being made and approaching film as art. TV also
has the opportunity to teach, especially outside of the classroom, as this is where students
experience watching television. Students “learn that art has the power to conceive,
persuade, seduce, make what is fiction seem fact, and to make reality appear unreal,”
through television (Freedman, 2003, p. 143). Because technology has become so
prevalent, though, “students need increased critical guidance . . . [meaning] that teachers
will have to increase attention to the interpretive and critical analysis of imagery and
other visual forms of information” (Freedman, 2003, p. 139).
Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):
This chapter was frustrating to read, in that it felt extremely outdated. I tend to
forget that 2003 was so long ago in terms of technology. At the time, what Freedman
discusses about technology in this chapter is likely extremely progressive and
informative, but I am not moved too much. I have already seen visual technology as a
part of visual culture for a few years, and I do agree that it should have a place in the
classroom. The only thing that I have yet to experience is a teacher acting as “critical
guidance” to help students make sense of and interpret what they see on TV or the
internet. It may be helpful for teachers to help students think critically more often about
what they see on the internet, especially now, with the issues of “fake news” and social
media. Too often, I see friends on Facebook share articles that are either fake or
noncredible. Often, the sharer does not read the article, but only shares it because of its
misleading title. I think it is important that people are aware of the amount of true and
false information on the internet, as well as on TV. However, I’m not sure that analyzing
in this way is the job of an art educator alone. I think it is important that teachers of other
subjects discuss the legitimacy of what students see in the media, as well.
As for the use of technology in my future classroom, I am nervous. I know very
little about using a computer for creating art. I desperately need to practice using Adobe
creative programs so that I can confidently include technology in my classroom. Ideally, I
wouldn’t include any, but school is for students, not teachers. It is important that I make
my classes relevant to student experiences, and technology is greatly important in a
student’s everyday life. I am nervous that they will be more knowledgeable than me,
though, at this point because they may have grown up using more of these programs that
I currently have.
FACILITATION SHEET

Title: Chapter 8 – Contributing to visual culture: Student artistic production and


assessment

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: Freedman, K. (2003). Contributing to visual culture: Student artistic


production and assessment. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and the
social life of art. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):


Creating and assessing artwork are both key components in teaching visual
culture by empowering students to use expression through creation. Teaching students
critiquing and assessment skills will help them build their knowledge in visual culture
and creating.

Short Overview (including any important quotes):


Freedman (2003) begins the chapter with a brief history and explanation of
scientific rhetoric, saying that in education this is seen in assessment methods for
educational objectives and standardized testing. This is why art is often seen as
illegitimate, because it is subjective and cannot be assessed using a scientific method. “If
we want students to appreciate the power and diversity of art, we must consider visual
culture a basic part of human existence” (Freedman, 2003, p. 150). Art is a legitimate
field of study, but it cannot use scientific rhetoric as a form of assessment. Instead, art
should be evaluated with many different forms of assessment. Freedman (2003) explains
that are can be assessed by using “observations, collections of students’ work, and
students’ self-evaluations,” (Shepard, 2000, as cited in Freedman, 2003, p. 150), in
addition to “oral and written documentation based on peer and self-assessment, critiques,
and other forms of response” (Boughton, 1996, as cited in Freedman, 2003, p. 151).
Freedman (2003) also explains that students develop their artistic knowledge by
learning critiquing and assessment skills. It is important that students critique the work of
their peers and their own so that they “can learn the production skills necessary for them
to feel comfortable about producing their own imaginative work, as well as gaining an
appreciation of their work and the work of others” (Freedman, 2003, p. 154). Freedman
offers and describes different critique methods that can be used in a classroom: traditional
critique, student questioning, individual dialogue, small group critique, peer pairs, and
role play. Different forms of critique should be done while making art, as an ongoing
critique, and at the end of artmaking, as a summative assessment (Freedman, 2003).

Response/Critical Reflection (Include applications to future teaching):


This chapter felt like a description of forms of assessment, as well as a summary
of all the chapters before it. Throughout the entire book, Freedman (2003) discusses the
idea of community and social experience in the classroom. I find it very important that
students are able to experience this in all classes, as it makes them more engaged in their
learning. As for critique, I find it slightly more difficult to get students engaged. This was
the case at St. Mary’s. My students were very engaged when talking about concepts and
vocabulary, and how to apply it to their work and the work of their peers. But, when it
was time to do a final critique, nobody wanted to talk. This definitely had to do with the
age level, but this is also something I would like to focus on in my future classroom. I
would like to experiment with different critique and assessment methods to find one that
most students are comfortable with. In middle school, having everyone present their work
and the meaning behind it was probably not the most effective way to run a critique, as
everyone is hyperconscious of their social appearance. I did try having the students walk
around the room and write a positive comment for each person’s painting, which slightly
worked. I did not receive much depth in the feedback I asked for, but there may be a
better way to pull this out of students. Maybe it would be beneficial to only ask for artist
statements and ensure students that only I would read them. Or, maybe role play would
work best in middle school so that students have the opportunity to be goofy and have fun
while still talking about their work. Nonetheless, it will take time to find a critique
method that works best for different age levels. This is something I want to focus on and
find my own solution to. I think that critique is extremely important in art education, and
especially in defending art education. Teaching students how to properly articulate their
thoughts, emotions, and ideas is what separates art from other subjects and it helps shape
well-rounded students.