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discipline based art education

updated tue 23 jun 98


Bryan Stecker on mon 22 jun 98

I have been using DBAE for many years with great results and I have
found that teaching art this way has many advantages. A typical lesson
begins with viewing a piece of art. Students are guided through the
viewing by answering questions about the sensory, formal, technical and
expressive properties of art. I have watched children and adults change
their opinion after taking part in an aesthetic scanning of an artwork.
Prior to the scanning they may have dismissed the piece as ugly, but
after exploring it and seeing the use of sensory and formal properties
they were able to appreciate it, not necessarily like it, but not
dismiss it as crap. During this phase we also discuss the artist or
culture. This puts the artwork in a time/place context. The next part
of the lesson would be to introduce the production portion of the
project. The teacher will demonstrate a technique or medium, explain
the criteria for the project and guide the students to completion. This
part often takes many class periods to complete, whereas the aesthetic
scanning usually takes one. After the projects are completed a final
critique may take the form of a class discussion, a written critical
analysis, or some other type of closure where the student looks at the
criteria and assesses how he/she has fulfilled it.

This structure is just plain good teaching. It holds the teacher
responsible for creating a well planned and organized lesson. My
experience has shown me that when students have structure they are more
creative. If the average student is given a box of watercolors, a piece
of paper, and a brush and told to paint he/she often comes up with
nothing. If that same student is asked to look at an abstract
watercolor by Georgia O'Keeffe and asked to find a landscape picture in
a magazine, abstract it and create his/her impression of it in
watercolor, I feel the results of the entire class would be much more
focused, thought out and students will be more satisfied.

Another benefit I see is that teachers of other subjects have more
respect for what students are learning in art. They see value in it.
They see students begin to use their new visual vocabulary in other
classes. I am sure there are lots of wonderful art teachers that do
this without the training and the buzz words.

If you want more information contact, or I'd be
happy to answer any questions.

Anne Stecker