Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Problem Solving

It happened again.

What started out as a big pain in the butt, has become the equivalent of an educator's "Ah ha!"

Before classes began this year, we received an urgent request from the Fine Arts administrators, downtown at the East 6th Street address, to submit artwork for the Vice Presidential debate extravaganza, at Case University on October 5th. The work needs to be submitted by September 24th.

This gives me exactly nineteen 40 minute class periods to get kids, who have never taken an art class, to produce quality work from inception to delivery.

How does this fit into my course syllabus for the first quarter?
It doesn't.

My class usually begins the semester with the question, What is Art?
Then we discus Why do artists create?
Followed by art vocabulary, art criticism, and aesthetic judgment.

Suddenly, this year, I had a dilemma.
I had next to no time to complete quality work, with inexperienced students, without a plan, during a critical period of time (the start of the school year) when the tone of the class is being established.
Damn..this was going to be a problem...a problem...a problem...

This year I would begin my classes with the concept of artist as problem solver.

Last week I presented my problem to the students, and now we are approaching the task as teams.

First we brainstomed slogans.
Next we picked the best ones out of the hundreds submitted.
Now we are brainstorming again, this time it's images.
Each person on the team is responsible for three thumbnail sketches.
The team will choose a composition and decide on the best way to produce the image and graphics.
ie: Traditionally, using technology, or a combination.
We have computers, printers, copiers, digital cameras, and stencils. We can use collage, markers, paint, pastels, ink, or any other 2-D medium.

I'm so impressed with the way these kids are working...just the way one would expect creative teams to work on a real job.
Yep...we jumped into the water and came up swimming.
I'll let you know in a couple of weeks how the products turn out.

* PS.
I decided to write on this topic today since a friend of mine, who reads my journal, did not understand I actually TAUGHT classes. He was under the impression that I was an administrator or counselor.

In case anyone else out there in cyberland is confused, let me clarify;
I am a classroom teacher with a full load of classes (150 students). I serve as department head. I've been elected as a union delegate for our building chapter. And finally, I facilitate an arts integration program (ICARE) for which I received major funding through Young Audiences of Greater Cleveland. This is where the public art projects and partnerships with various cultural institutions come in.

I hope this helps with the confusion. mb

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