Queering Curriculum: Truth or Dare, Secret Nude Sketches, and Closeted Video Recordings

By Bey, Sharif; Washington, G. E. | Studies in Art Education, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Queering Curriculum: Truth or Dare, Secret Nude Sketches, and Closeted Video Recordings


Bey, Sharif, Washington, G. E., Studies in Art Education


In this article, two art teacher trainers explore the possibility of saddling critical pedagogy with queer theory in order to question the art curriculum's potential for critiquing personal relationships. As a preadolescent boy, one author initiated his own sex education curriculum with his middle school peers by creating "secret nude sketches" in order to prompt conversations about sex and sexuality. The other author considers his efforts to challenge the conventions of assessment and personal reflection by radically combining these activities into an alternative mid-term examination. By paralleling their teaching and learning experiences, the authors begin to grapple with multiple aspects of their identities within and outside of the curriculum. This article suggests that approaching curriculum as a set of actions built toward conversations of understanding will help art teachers queer spaces between themselves, the classroom, the students, and the world.

Parties provide us with opportunities to convene and socialize at predetermined venues. Our personal experience has indicated that people may follow social norms at parties, but the environments and themes (e.g., pool, pajama, toga, swinger, porn star, and masquerade parties) along with props, alcohol, and drugs are used to drastically alter the expectations for how people might interact in these spaces. It might appear that the host makes a party roc/cor gives it hype. After all, it is the host who provides the basic party needs: food, beverage, seating, and music. Certainly it is more than the"space"and inclination to gather that makes a good party? However, the amenities and atmosphere are not in and of themselves measures of fun. The participants of a party, including the host and guests, are responsible for defining or challenging what it means to have a good time. Its participants take the responsibility of finding their own points of engagements within the party. If the participants are not engaged in the general mood of the party, they might initiate alternatives by staging various rituals such as games, dancing, or bonfires. People change the interactions of the party in order to introduce alternative points of engagement for themselves. The agenda of a party may spontaneously shift at any moment depending on the location, company, mood, resources and, more importantly, the interactions of its participants. While we may be more proud of some than others, the initiatives we might take at parties offer endless possibilities for creating memorable and engaging experiences. Can these initiatives for triggering new points of engagement at parties also serve as metaphors for how we might think about teaching and learning interactions? If the term, curriculum, is dislodged from its static association with written materials and school buildings, can our interactions at parties be seen as models for provoking new curricular relationships in the art class?

In the late 1 970s, leaders of the "reconceptualist movement" in curriculum theory, primarily Madeline Grumet and William Pinar (1976), led a shift from thinking of curriculum as a noun or object of learning to a verb or the actions of learning. "From this postmodern perspective, the curriculum is an interpretation of lived experiences rather than a static source of studies to be completed" (Slattery, 1995, p. 77). In this article, we see curriculum "as" performance - a set of behaviors documented and examined in hindsight, in order to discover possibilities for regenerative openness through new classroom interactions. Seeing curriculum as performance allows us to imagine it as a site where through alternative initiatives for engagement anything becomes possible within the school. To queer what educators have come to know as the art curriculum, we highlight the rituals and processes of not only the art room, but also a party. This is a purposeful co-mingling of performances from two separate spaces in order to provoke a queer remembrance not only of curriculum, but also the identification of ourselves as participants within it.

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