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Local children attend DAAP art classes

Saturday Art Program brings pre-K through high school students onto campus to learn collaboration and critical-thinking skills in art, as taught by DAAP visual-art education students

 by Deborah Rieselman

When you think of preschoolers taking an art class, you might picture rough scribbles on a cartoon-like page or paste oozing out from the edges of cutouts stuck on construction paper. Whether or not such tools are appropriate for tykes in the Saturday Art Program at the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning doesn’t matter, because that is not the focus.

DAAP-education students who teach the classes are less concerned about the means used than about teaching concepts — such as "collaboration and critical thinking skills for investigating their world," explains Nandita Sheth, a graduate assistant who organized this year’s program. No one is teaching such multi-syllabic words to the distracted 4-year-olds, but the 20-somethings realize that statement sums up their goal.

What the younger pupils do understand is that their classes are fun, and they get to work with friends who may be quite different from the ones in their own classrooms.

For many years, DAAP’s Visual Arts Education Program has conducted the six-week program for pre-kindergarteners through high school students. This year, about 90 children were divided into approximately 10 classrooms, according to their ages. Teachers were assigned to each classroom. To accommodate diversity, multiple scholarships were awarded to low-income children who no longer had arts programs at their own schools.

Last year, the demand was so great that the School of Art began offering the program twice a year, explains Emily Paolucci, the school’s program coordinator. In fact registrations have already begun for the next session, Jan. 25 to March 1, 10:00 to noon.

Sheth, the GA for Kristopher Holland, the director of DAAP’s art-education licensure program, has been thrilled with the results. “This is about visual arts,” she says. “Everything you do today is visual, so the kids need ways to understand those images and make sense of them — and not be controlled by them.

“The pre-K classes were so cute. We worked on ideas of diversity, so each week the class contributed to the same art project by adding another layer. The children understood that things change when you add on to it, but it still looked good.

“They responded to it very well,” she continues, “because it related to their real world and it was very relevant to them.

“People think of an artist as lone genius who comes up with ideas all by himself. But it’s not like that. We live in a collaborative world.”

She calls the program a “unique opportunity” for both the younger students and the DAAP students who learn so much by working with the children. The experience is helpful as the college students prepare for licensure as teachers.

The $75 cost of registration only covers the school’s cost for supplies for both the classes and the closing exhibition, she adds. No one receives any compensation for teaching.

The last Saturday of the session is a public exhibition of their artistic results, located on campus at the Aronoff Center’s fifth floor grand staircase. The children pictured here had their exhibition on Nov. 16, 2013.

At that exhibit, Sheth explained that the DAAP students were torn between two opposing emotions — glad that they were to get their Saturday's back, but also sad to bid their students farewell. Parents said that was the mixed emotion they all wanted to see in their children's teachers.

LINK: DAAP's Saturday Art Program.

 

— posted Nov. 2013