Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers: Art from around the World

By Greenman, Geri | Arts & Activities, January 2007 | Go to article overview

Tried & True Tips for Art Teachers: Art from around the World


Greenman, Geri, Arts & Activities


Many schools are embracing cultural diversity by honoring our differences through the arts, music, history and language, bringing us closer together. As art teachers, we know that we often do just that by incorporating the art of other cultures throughout our curricula.

We're all aware that when you know and understand something, you come to appreciate and value its uniqueness. This is an important quest for all of us in this changing world. Artists, teachers of art, art historians and other enthusiasts appreciate and value the art of other countries, so perhaps we may need to help facilitate the education of others.

TIP #1

AN INTERNATIONAL FEST It has always been my experience that art teachers are natural leaders. One way you can highlight the unique cultural differences in your students could be what we did at our high school: an "International Fest."

For one week, music from different countries was played during the passing periods; foreign-language students read a greeting or part of the student bulletin in a different language each day; and the dance troupe teacher used the week to introduce folk dances in her P.E. classes. This type of event is a natural for social studies (history, geography) teachers as they discuss countries, customs, changing boundaries and changing names.

Even the library staff participated by hosting daily demonstrations (mostly art-related) by staff or students during lunch periods. One day, a talented student made origami animals and birds; she was amazing[ Another day, I demonstrated Suminagashi (Japanese paper marbling) and had students make a sheet of marbled paper for themselves.

TIP #2

ART AND FOOD FROM AROUND THE WORLD During this special week, your art classes might be creating batiks (Indonesia); pit-fired, burnished pottery (American Indian); calligraphy with bamboo brushes or pens (Chinese, Japanese); pysanka (Ukranian egg decorating); paper marbling (Japanese and Turkish); and/or cloth or paper molas (Central America). Whether created in art classes or as an afterschool activity, there are lots of ways to highlight other cultures.

Perhaps, as a final culminating experience for International Fest, you might suggest an after-school festivity where special foods are! made available. No matter what grade level you teach, students would likely engage their parents or grandparents to create a special treat for such an event, where Italian biscotti or pitzelles, Greek baklava and Polish kolacky can be shared-or even purchased to fund next year's International Fest.

Students could wear special costumes from their country of origin at the event. The colors, designs and patterns would add much to the festive occasion. …

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