Admittedly, art history is probably the weakest area in my teaching. It is something that I have never had an interest in studying. It was one of the hardest art courses I took at both colleges I attended. I have never figured out a way to really make the incorporation into my classes fun, interesting, and worthwhile.
It is an area that I am “supposed” to bring into my classroom. It is part of the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) I must adhere to when creating my lesson plans. I have skated around it for the past 7+ years saying that I add in art history by doing this activity or that activity. At the beginning, every lesson had an art history component. I don’t think the kids ever really made the connection between what we were doing and the artist or genre we were “studying”. In fact, I don’t think they really cared. Over time, I changed the activity about 7 times…that works out to be some new way to bring it in every year. I was exhausted.
So, just how important is it that we teach our kids about what came before them? As an artist, I usually don’t go looking into the past when working. I am concerned about the now. When I read about who artists were influenced by, they are usually contemporaries of that artist. Rarely have I read that an artist was influenced by another artist that came 100 years before them. This is not to say it doesn’t happen. I am sure it does…I just haven’t read about it that much. Many of the artists that I like were/are pushing the envelope of what was occurring at their time or maybe a few years before them…but still to them, contemporary.
So, it is more important that we drone on about the past or that we introduce them to what is happening today? I lean towards the latter. I am not dead-set in this opinion. Convince me that I need to continue to rack my brain figuring out how to incorporate art history more that showing images of artwork that illustrates a theme. Tell me why–beyond because it is important to learn what came before. Tell me that it is more important to know these things for something more than being able to answer questions on Jeopardy or Trivia Crack.
“Art needs to be socialised, and you need a lot of context to understand that, and that doesn’t mean having read a few art history books.” ~Peter M. Brant