I spent some time this semester at a new suburban high school that appears to have all the latest technology available that a teacher could want or need at their disposal. I was pretty excited about this because of my background in graphic design…
I wanted to share a great conversation I had with my co-op teacher between classes yesterday about the extent that he uses this new technology. I observed him use his laptop to take attendance, record grades and e-mail parents. The students were hands on throughout the classes and I observed that they did not use any technology during class time. They did look up artists outside of class time in preparation for assignments and printed them out in the library or computer lab but that was it. Where are the power points and youtube videos? I also noticed a piles of art books scattered about his desk and the countertops and how he used them during discussions with the students instead of using the overhead projector and computer.
I asked the teacher, wouldn’t it be easier to look up various artists online and pull them up to talk about? his answer really surprised me. He said he uses it sparingly. His reason was that he found that when he pulled out a book of art, the students gathered around more readily and were more engaged with what they were looking at. It was as if he was holding this special gift that everyone wanted to know more about. He said that they blank out when he stands there and talks while clicking through slides on the projector because they are so used to staring at screens. He also found that they would look through the book on their own and read the accompanying articles and learn more about the movement or artist, ask more questions throughout the class that would encourage more critical conversations. They would also remember the books and recalled the artists easier. If they didn’t know the artist name, they would describe the book he or she was in and then would find it on their own. He said this works even better than a color handout because if he gives them a worksheet about the artist- most of the time he would find many of the worksheets left behind at the end of class. He has collected the classroom books over the years and has an impressive library that includes many post modern & contemporary artists.
I have been reluctant to buy too many teaching materials because I don’t know what grade level I will end up teaching. I am however glad to have accumulated a huge library of classic and contemporary art books and magazines that I will be able to share with my students no matter what the age level…. Don’t get me wrong tho- I’ll still be sprinkling my classes with a few slammin’ Keynote presentations. I’ll just be sure to vary the classes.