Teachers Connect
Jul 18, 2013

Institute 1: More or Less

A teacher who was using the curriculum for a second year wrote this: 

I have consciously chosen to focus more deeply on some of the concepts this year whereas last year I was just “trying to get through the lessons” because I thought I had to.  My tunnel books came out much better this year because I have slowed down and focused on teaching some of the elements in each lesson more thoroughly.

In relationship to this statement, an article in the Denver Post about an artist, Quang Ho, whose works hang in galleries around the world, seem pertinent.  He talks about isolating objects and concentrating on an element of the object – maybe its color, shape or line, rather than on everything about the object.  He shared thoughts on several master artists, whose greatest paintings, he believes, were done when the artist began concentrating on color for color’s sake or texture for texture’s sake – concentrating on fewer elements in their art or just one or two in one piece of art. 

The teacher has chosen to concentrate more deeply on one or two concepts and believes her emphasis on certain elements has improved her students’ works.  What do you think about this?

9 Responses to Institute 1: More or Less

  1. Monica says:

    Her approach makes a lot of sense to me — each book art piece does not need to be all things: that is, it doesn’t have to fit multiple art concepts or curriculum objectives. Personally, I know I am seeing merely a fraction of what book art can do for my curriculum. At this point, I need to sit down with my curriculum as well as all the types of book art I have learned and see where I can make a true connection. Thank goodness I still have 4 more weeks of summer!

  2. Sonia says:

    This brings up the issue of quality vs quantity. What’s important is the quality rather than the quantity. In our society where everything has to be quantifiable, we forget that less can be more, quality is not always in the quantity. That said, I too would rather focus on fewer concepts that my students would not only fully understand but also appreciate rather than running into the problem of information overload because of having too much material to absorb in too little time.

  3. Talia says:

    I completely agree that focusing on particular elements of art and design would positively impact students’ work. Students, especially my ESOL students, can get very overwhelmed with too many instructions and information. Perhaps all students do. It may be better to practice on skill, one task, rather than multitask and risk producing mediocre work. Better to master one element at a time. It is a good life lesson fro students as well. Patience and practice give the artist a chance for reflection and time for self-improvement.

  4. Grace says:

    I would absolutely agree that this is the best way for our students to learn new concepts and skills. Overwhelming any learner causes frustration, confusion, and misunderstandings. By breaking things down into single tasks/concepts/objectives we give our students the opportunity to apply and internalize information. The necessity of teaching this way really hit home for me when I was in my forties and schools were just beginning to use computers. I remember going to professional development sessions introducing us to the myriad wonders of the Internet, software programs, etc. . Because everything was new to most of us many people could not keep up with the intructor and starting behaving in ways our children sometimes do. There was crying, angry speech, lots of sighing, and one person who even walked out of the session, slamming the door behind her. It was too much to take in all at once and people couldn’t figure anything out so they shut down instead.
    As I am thinking about my final project idea tonight I know I want to plan a book structure my students will developmentally be able to handle and also include content for both writing and art making that can be created in pieces, building skills as they are building the book.

  5. Lila says:

    Clutter is a big problem on many levels. Whether it is material clutter, noise clutter, information clutter…, clutter I think can distract from gaining a fuller experience with the many works and mediums available. I think it is very important for us to slow down and allow children to participate in a way that brings satisfaction whether they are exploring a work of art or producing one. I also think that it is helpful to have many examples and opportunities to practice, throughout the year, of one particular skill. Give a lot of time to sharpen that skill before jumping to another. In time the products wil keep getting better because it is not a child’s first or last attempt to work on that skill.

  6. Zenola Jacobs says:

    I don’t think that it is a good idea to focus on one element. because there are students with various learning styles that an instructor must be able to adapt to so that each student benefits from the lessons.

  7. Beverly says:

    I truly believe that time need to be taken to cover art concepts so that the students will be able to retain information taught and produce in a creative way. My objective as a teacher is to make all students confortable enough so that they don’t give up before they start. Before a final project is completed, students have to be comfortable with their practice. If they know they are capable of completing the assignment the outcome will be fantastic. If not enough time is given to students to practice skills and concepts, the outcome will be disapointing to the student and the teacher

  8. evelyn says:

    I totally agree with Monica that each book art piece does not have to be all things. That said, I will try to incorporate a book art piece into the library curriculum at the beginning of the year doing the same thing with several classes (practice gets you better). In addition, I plan to experiment using VTS with students and perhaps combine it with writing a Fibonnacci poem, describing “The Rabbit Problem” and dong a tangle while writing a personal memoir. Too much?

    I have learned to much and look forward to trying many things over the next school year – beginning with a artist’sbook for the children to create and then display in the library.

  9. Michelle says:

    Hmmm…. I am thinking about the fact that in yesterday’s post I had scads of ideas of how to add in the books. I understand the idea that sometimes less is more. However, I want to put the books into my lesson planning ideas for certain weeks in order to ensure that I don’t waste what I have learned this week.

    I think that maybe instead of having tons of ideas for the first quarter I should pick out ideas for only two books per quarter so that I can concentrate on doing those well, rather than trying to get to all of them in the first month which could frustrate me or make the books seem less special to my students.

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