Looking to Learn: The Panes and Perspective of Mark Rothko – Teachers Teaching Teachers 2017

Once again, I will be presenting at Pine Crest’s Teachers Teaching Teachers but this time, I will be modeling what it feels like to be in an AP Art History class of mine. The subject? None other than Mark Rothko and his work.

Abstract art is not a whole lot of fun for most audiences, and abstract expressionism seems to be a challenge for those choosing to take on the course of study, let alone to audiences that may pass through that part of the gallery or museum. Considering Mark Rothko’s color-field style, most will turn heel muttering words of frustration or even the infamous “I could do that” mantra.

It will be no small task to introduce an audience to, and hopefully walk away with, a deeper appreciation for Rothko and his work as well as the field of art history. I would be delusional to think that everyone will emerge experts of Rothko after a 45 minute introduction as well because, honestly, is anyone really an expert on Rothko anyway?

If you are around and interested, stop on by room 205 at 1:00pm this Tuesday to see what I am up to. I will be trying out some of the latest approaches I picked up at Project Zero this summer and hopefully gaining converts to both PZ as well as art history!

The Art and Practice of Slow Looking at Project Zero

Shari Tishman presented a plenary on the concept of slow looking and its potential benefits. Needless to say, as an art historian and teacher, I was intrigued.

The concept of looking was introduced as a habit; and all habits can be improved with time and repetition. As such, looking requires us to be present – this is something our students today, pulled in various directions with many tools of distraction, are having a heck of a time doing.

Most importantly, looking is a prime method for information gathering. The better we are at it, the better the information that can be sourced from an object. Being present also allows us to notice more than at first glance. This behavior builds on our intention, and slow looking helps develop what Tishman referred to as “philosophical well-being”. There is a lot of talk about mindfulness, she reminded, but this is specifically a character virtue. Slow looking, she differentiated, has epistemic value and helps us develop how we learn about the world. By slowing down and looking more closely, we can find more meaning.

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Thinking Globally With Art at Project Zero

As an AP Art History teacher, and now an AP World History teacher (jumping back into that again!), I find it very important that our students become literate to the world of ideas around them. This takes several forms these days; some will push for a more globally oriented course whereby students become aware of the rest of the world at large in order to increase their perspectives. I appreciate this attempt but I also find that our students, today, are especially illiterate of the ideas that form the foundation of our society – notably those that are at the bedrock of Western civilization.

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