"The division between things of beauty and things of use is the function of a class heritage and a tradition of industry for profit only. " Irwin Edman, Arts and the Man


It was clear after teaching art in the public arena that the 'modern art', 'fine art', 'beaux art' model (whatever you want to call it) doesn't reach out to students with a loving embrace. Why all the mystery and ego associated with the struggling artist trying to make it big? To a seventh grader this example models the struggle for money and success first and the inherent rewards of art second. Art is a wonderful experience. In looking for a path to achieve these ends in art education I found the craft model. It has proven to be an endless source of inspiration for creating a curriculum of "art is life". Every culture and people group has a craft model to draw from. It is a significant part of the connection of art and living for everyone.

Classroom Communities

A large part of my vision for implementing the craft model as a successful art curriculum includes building a culturally relevent, student centered community in the classroom. Exploring art in cultural and economic context is inherent to the craft model. As a result it becomes a useful model for building a logically organized, relevant classroom community. There are some very useful resources available online. Here are a few, courtesy of Dr. Chris Shea. (see official credits and thanks to Dr. Shea below)

An excerpt from this online book, How people learn best has great primary research in support of community building as well as student centered classrooms.

For more help learning to build a community in the classroom here is The whole school movement web site with contact information to representatives in many states. A research study specifically about building good classroom communities called diversity and complexity in the classroom is also available.

Culturally relevent teaching helps to build socially just, democratic communities the classroom. I found helpful information to begin to build a nonprejudice classroom at the Anti-defamation League web site. Click on terms and definitions. The Knowledge Loom is all about what works best in teaching and learning. Click on the resources button. Multicultural education or teaching from diverse perspectives, help connect students to the subject in a meaningful way.

Current research on cognition, student centered learning and community oriented classroom is detailed in this online book. This section on Student centered education is a great resource for the latest research in designing student centered learning environments.

Special thanks to Dr. Chris Shea, professor of education at East Carolina University for teaching me that learning can and should be fair, safe and fun for all students.

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