Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Frill, School Art Has Real Value

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Frill, School Art Has Real Value

Article excerpt

As a substitute teacher, many assignments are offered to me. In

February, 10 days as an elementary school art teacher at a beach

school came my way. A viral infection felled the regular

teacher. She was able to outline several neat projects for me to

oversee.

Walking that mile in her shoes was very enlightening. During

the late 1970s, as a teacher in the gifted-student program, I

had enjoyed many hours of art projects with my students done by

talented artists/teachers including potter Charlie Brown,

batikmaker Nellie Lynch and painter/wood-carver Leland

Brewsaugh. Many others also did workshops for my students.

Those 10 days convinced me that elementary school art is not a

frivolous luxury. The time using crayons and watercolors to

prepare example stages for the projects was quite therapeutic.

Fun, too. Seeing children from kindergarten to fifth grade

tackle their projects was eye-opening.

A universal high point was the good behavior shown by most of

the classes. Behavior problems were very few, thus clearing the

way for my observations. Each class carried the distinct

personality of its teacher into the art room. I saw some classes

three times during my brief tenure. That individuality remained

intact each time.

The worst and best moments came from two kindergarten students.

One simply declared that coloring her own self-designed shapes

was too difficult. Her regular classwork probably never is. I

fear for her academic progress with that attitude already

starting.

The other little girl produced work superior to most of the

fifth-graders' work. I told her so. She may well become a

brilliant design engineer.

Watching how the classes took on each project was fascinating.

Each student's approach, I'll bet, would allow me to accurately

predict how well that student was doing in academic classes. …

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