Relating Art History to What Children Know: Teachers Need to Provide a Natural Atmosphere in Which This Active, Constructive Learning Can Continue. Children Play an Active Role in the Learning Process When Instruction Builds upon, Correlates, and Extends Information. (outside the Box: Point of View)

Article excerpt

Elementary and art education classroom teachers approach teaching art history with many different styles and methods. The approach I am introducing is based on a philosophy of how children learn and how new information should be meaningful and relate to what the child already knows.

From birth, children have sought to make sense of their world. They are constantly experimenting, solving problems, and testing hypotheses to gain knowledge. At home, children are encouraged to take risks without fear of failure. For example, children accomplish the complex task of learning to talk naturally, because they are surrounded by people who are using language meaningfully, rather than through deliberate instruction.

Children become literate in much the same way they learn to speak. They learn because they want to participate and make sense of the world and language around them. Making and correcting their own mistakes becomes part of the learning process. They add to their knowledge base by relying on what they know and using that information to make connections with new information.

Active Learning

Teachers need to provide a natural atmosphere in which this active, constructive learning can continue. Children play an active role in the learning process when instruction builds upon, correlates, and extends information. When students participate in discussions and connect new information to their experiences, they are more likely to understand that new information.

Children need to be participants in learning activities not just listeners. The opportunity to ask questions, analyze subject matter, give opinions, and relate new information enhances the learning process. Ultimately, active learning gives students a sense of ownership and involvement in their experiences and effectively facilitates their desire to learn more about the world in which they live.

Building on Experience

The presentation of art history information should include examples children can relate to (what the student knows and experiences). …