SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 33 have autism, dyslexia, or ADHD are faced with the same feelings they had in the beginning and have to overcome them daily. As this revela - tion dawned on them, we could see the understanding on their faces as their eyes widened and they slowly nodded their heads. Closing By having our students face the same struggles as artists with challenges, they were able to communicate about the difficulties posed and problem- solve together. They were able to compare how their lives would be dif - ferent if they had a disability. Allow- ing young children to open up to such Defeat came over the children almost immediately and they shot back that this task was "impossible." Never - theless, we followed up by showing images of artwork from the artists listed earlier. Once students saw what was possible, their imaginations and determination increased. Each student was given paper and watercolors and set to work. Students worked diligently, thinking critically and solving problems on their own. The room was nearly silent—nothing could stop their art-making. What Did This Teach? This lesson contains multiple visual arts standards and digs deeper when focusing on empathy. Getting stu- dents to do something that is out of the norm can be challenging, but this lesson allows for them to open up and step outside of their comfort zones. More importantly, this activity opened a door for teaching empathy to students. What they were able to do during this lesson was open up and share and understand the feelings of one another. They were able to empa - thize with the artists we introduced because we put them in their shoes. Deconstruction To wrap up the lesson, we decon- structed it. We led a deep and honest discussion about how students felt when they were told to paint like an elephant. Many students were scared at first and afraid of failure or doing "bad work." They became less intimidated when they saw the artwork and heard the stories about the artists who have learned to over - come their challenges. They learned to problem-solve and think critically as they painted. Our conversation did not end there. We completed the discussion by pointing out that children who This activit pened a door for teaching empath to students. vulnerability and emotion strength- ens their sense of empathy. Tracey Hunter-Doniger is assistant profes- sor of creativity/creative arts at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Caro - lina. hunterdonigertl@ cofc.edu; Samantha Williams and Kathryn Brundage are gradu - ate students at the College of Charleston. N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Creating: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work. W E B L I N K S www.youtube.com/ watch?v=owSZs7H24UY www.elephantart.com/catalog/ Students understand empathy with a different perspective.

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