Ultimately, I would like students to create new narratives in art history. Why is it important for students to learn these skills? Central to my pedagogy is that students should be able to become critical thinkers of their world and continually question information (in any form) that is presented to them while, as their art teacher, creating authentic interdisciplinary units of study. Currently there is a strong debate in education about the history curriculum and the information (both verbal information and accompanied visual imagery) that it should present to students, as recently noted by Diane Ravitch in her book,
The Death and Life of the Great American School System .
When reading information in a textbook, one could do little to question it to assume that it presents "facts," that are "true," and ultimately to accept its account as all there is to a particular time period. It is important for students (and teachers) to remember that these texts were written by a group of people who hold particular views of what is important and inherent to history. Having students draw upon multiple sources of information, historical accounts in addition to both literary and visual works of the time, allows them to draw their own conclusions and "reinvent history". Therefore, this unit will make interdisciplinary connections to both history and literary works while having students view these materials through the lens of an art historian.
The New Haven District, as part of all of its devised curricula areas, has students answer what are called essential questions within each unit of study. For this unit, students will answer the following questions: What is the language of art? How does the analysis of a visual artwork compare to the analysis of a written text? How can an artist utilize written text in their visual artwork to communicate meaning? How does a contemporary artist reflect upon a historical event versus an artist of that time? How can an artist challenge and disrupt our conventional understanding of written history? How can an artist become a "change-agent" to encourage change within a community by presenting information in a new or different way?