Alden, Donna S.
A.542 | Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 12:30 - 13:00, Room A1
Rethinking Multicultural Art Education: Dominant Pedagogical Practice and the etic and emic of student stories
Telling stories through art is a common practice of elementary students, but is just as often overlooked by the teacher as a valuable way to understand how a child thinks and feels. The objects children place in their artworks, the colors they choose and even the way they act when creating art are indicative of the stories that run freely through their heads as they create. There is meaning attached to those objects and colors; there is meaning attached to the actions and reactions to creating and looking at art that may not be obvious to the casual observer. Often, all we need to do is ask students to tell their stories, either verbally or in a literary form, but too often we do not bother to ask. In a world where multicultural education seems to be failing as a way to bring people together, the need to rethink multicultural education practices is apparent. The reality is that there is seldom a clear cut plan or path that has been charted for teachers to follow. It is especially difficult for new teachers whose uncharted journey in providing an equitable education for children who are different than themselves often results in dead ends, detours, and lost students. I believe that the most effective teachers are the ones who take time to know (not just know about) the very essence of their students. Through this belief, I introduce in my elementary art methods class ways which explain how teachers can use the art that students create and discussions of diverse cultural artworks to gain a greater understanding of and sensitivity toward their non-majority students so academic excellence can take place. Learning about Others’ stories through the medium of art is a logical and practical application of the anthropological idea of the etic and emic; the knowing and the being of humans. Narratives of children, told through art, give insight to the unique identity of each individual and often reveal how children who are Others strive to function in a dominant society. This paper looks at the objective and subjective reality of Other children and how multicultural education typically focuses on the etic (the seen) and not the emic (the unseen) of children and how art stories can be used to promote understanding and acceptance.
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