Learning Environments for Show and Tell
Carpenter, B. Stephen, II, Art Education
Looking back, as a young child I do not think I understood the point of "show and tell"
The idea, it seemed to me, was to find something at home that was personally special, bring it to school, show it to your classmates, and then tell them about it. I did not see what the big idea was with that activity because my Mends and I did that all of the time. Randy used to bring in football trading cards. He would talk about how much they were worth and the statistics and the accomplishments of the players. I remember that Geoff liked plastic soldiers, Allison played chess, and Robbie and his older sister created puppets. It seemed to me that "showing and telling" in school situations was not as exciting as it was when we did it on our own. Outside of school, my friends and I took time to ask questions and investigate each other's objects more closely. We would borrow the objects for a while before returning them to their owners. In our unstructured show-and-tell experiences, my friends and I included an interactive component that somehow seemed to be missing from most of the structured show-and-tell situations at school.
This issue offers examples of how effective learning environments in art require various forms of social interaction among their learners. In the learning theories of Vygotsky and others, social interaction plays an important role whereby "peer groups facilitate language and concept development and, consequently, higher mental functioning" (Althouse, Johnson, and Mitchell, 2003, p. 8). As Pitri (2004) explains, "learning is in part a product of the activity, context, and culture in which it is developed and used" (p. 6). Althouse, A Johnson, and Mitchell (2003) note, "It is through social interaction that children learn that other children have ideas different from their own" (p. 3). I think that was one of the benefits of the show-and-tell activities my friends and I designed for ourselves.
In the pages that follow, the authors share ways in which children show, tell, and exhibit what they know and learn. Three articles address exhibitions of student art or art in galleries and museums. Two articles discuss art education environments in Cyprus, and two refer to the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Most of the authors provide examples of learning environments for young children that emphasize the social aspects of artmaking, art exhibitions, and discussions about works of art.
Eliza Pitri promotes the idea that learning is partially a product of the activities, contexts, and culture in which it occurs. …