Wednesday, October 26, 2011

critical responses to art

Last week in Interpretations class we read an article by two museum educators Danielle Rice and Philip Yenawine. Both are very well know in the field, yet have very different ways they teach art. I was very interested in Yenawine's technique to teach through critical response. Critical thinking is something that most schools are not incorporating into their lessons today because testing has taken over as the all-important aspect of public education (this is the conclusion we came to in class with the help of former and current public school teachers taking the class). That being said I think that art education is such a great way to incorporate critical thinking into academics.
Yenawine works with young children and asks them to say what they think about a work of art, what they see, tell a story, what does it mean. He asks questions and allows them to think critically about a work, but never intervenes. This got me thinking, is it responsible for an educator to allow someone to create their own interpretation of the art even if it is completely incorrect? While I think his ideas of critical thinking in education are amazing, I'm really not sure if that is the only way to do it. How can an educator allow a student to believe something completely incorrect about a work and not at least try to point them in the right direction? Coming from an art history background I believe that aspect is super important. While there may be several interpretations of what is going on in a work, wouldn't it be the responsibility of the educator to tell the student basic factual information in some way? or does this completely discourage critical thought if they find out they are wrong? This is really difficult stuff to think through!

1 comment:

  1. i've always believed that an individual viewer's interpretation of a piece at any given moment is as valid as the 'correct' interpretation. for one thing, the experiences, perspectives, and ideas that the viewer brings will totally shape their view of an artwork, and each viewer's experience is totally unique. when you invalidate someone's reponse to an artwork, you push them away from wanting to engage with future works. bring them inot the conversation and let them have their own ideas, and we'll go from there. :)