Monday, December 5, 2011

Remarks: "Joseph Fitzpatrick was our Teacher"

“There is no such thing as a finished canvas. Alteration is the rule rather than the exception,” states Raymond Saunders in the short article, Joseph Fitzpatrick was our Teacher, a vignette homage to an art educator who inspired both he and legendary Pop Art icon, Andy Warhol. But, like any inspiring educator, Mr. Fitzpatrick must have helped Saunders understand that all of life is purely alteration and change, and much like the included lesson plan, Collage: A Visual Memory, that this short article accompanies, there needs be made room for slight alteration, modification and accommodation.
While I understand that definitive lesson plans in the art room should accumulate all of the listed contingency factors because of Federal Legislation: State Standards, associated Multiple Intelligences, project Procedures, pertinent Vocabulary, student-Assessment Rubric, English-Language Arts Standards, etc., and are a must at this point in our educational democracy for art educators to keep their positions as a major component for intelligent educational practices, I wonder while perceiving this lesson plan as to the strictness of use of materials, scripted student responses and teacher interaction. If all of our best intentions for student education are laid out in a rote routine, how will genuine learning happen, or can this be used as a mere guideline to follow while including ‘teachable moments’?
What I did find interesting about the lesson, Collage: A Visual Memory, is almost a contradiction to the previous paragraph, as it proved by listing, and I realize that the arts include, factors of history, research, vocabulary, reading and writing than most other subjects and that to make a meaningful project come alive, students must first have a background in the artist and type of artistic medium that they are to study. By being asked probing questions, like “what does it mean?” and “how do you know?” the educator sends the student inward and begins developing critical thinking skill necessary for genuine, creative analysis.
Included in this lesson, that I would see myself modifying were I to include it in my unit plans, were all of the major components of a great, well thought out lesson like Bloom’s Taxonomy describe, of learning goals and objectives, of activating prior schema, references of materials, techniques, style and composition, for increasing the student’s cognitive capabilities through recalling information, understanding the process, applying their knowledge, analyzing, evaluating and creating their own, personal work similar to another. Included were also reference to various teaching styles and instructional styles, so as to keep student attention and interest, which I also tend to rely on, keeping it fresh.
To conclude, by keeping it fresh and light, as Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid”, so should an educator take on lessons that convey John Dewey’s critical pedagogy of being an agent of change to see students through a world that must be aware of their own local and global impact, as in this lesson and like that of Joseph Fitzpatrick’s influence on his students, namely Raymond Saunders in this case.

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