I am glad I am not alone in thinking that the art room may be the one place in a school where we can find respite from technology. Where we work with our hands and our imaginations. Where technology, which permeates so much of every classroom, is not welcome, or used more as a living encyclopedia of art and artists and movements. Where the hands, the heart, the mind all join in the creation of something unique and personal for the artist. Where the experience of art making is shared in person, without a screen in between the artist and the teacher.
This blog spoke right to me today, in which Melissa Purtee voices all of my doubts about the value of tech in the art room. It has its plusses...but also its minuses. It helps with assessment, with research, with getting organized...but does it take away too much of the face to face that students need? Too much of the hands on experience that school used to be filled with?
Purtee's article followed on the heels of an article about how technology is taking over the classroom by Natasha Singer, in which she shows how large tech companies are investing millions in school districts, supplying them with technology, changing the way the classroom is structured, all with little oversight or research about how this is affecting students...not to mention how Google is in roughly half of the nation's schools, gaining millions of future customers, and using schools as their testing grounds.
And all this follows a study published by Common Sense Media that shows that more technology use is hurting students' performance, according to teachers. It decreases attention span, does not improve writing skills, hurts their ability to communicate face to face, and does not help their critical thinking. On the positive side, we see that students gain huge benefits from adaptive technology, they can gain a broader understanding of the world, and an increased understanding of how we work together.
Before we throw out the clay and the paintbrushes and hand every child a digital drawing pad and cool new apps for creating art, give them a chance to create with their hands, on paper, on canvas. Give them a chance to get messy, to make mistakes, to paint over, throw out, start over. Let them deal with disappointment, ask for help, brainstorm a new idea, work with a teacher or a partner. Have them experience what art making has involved for millennia...the hands, the eyes, the heart, inspiration, and practice.
Titus albus, watercolor, ink, gold on yupo, 8" x 8", 2016.
I am an artist and teacher, living in the Pacific Northwest. My teaching is heavily based in Art History and Science. I have a certificate in Scientific Illustration. I love nature, hiking, sailing (as long as I am not in charge), my family, and my border collie.