The Arts. Just somebody’s planning time.

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Comic panels from Rachel Branham’s What So Great About Art Anyway?

For many of us who taught the Arts in public schools (that could afford it) there always seemed to be a tension and struggle to be respected. Not personally respected. I mean as a subject matter and as folks knowledgable about the broader issues of curriculum, teaching and learning.

The music teacher and I would joke that we were often seen as not much more than somebody’s planning time.

Which we were. That was how our district scheduled things.

Classroom teachers hated having Art on Mondays. That’s when most of the school holidays are and they would lose a planning period that week.

And I understood.

And there is no question that for even the best funded school district, the Arts can be a kind of Rodney Dangerfield of school disciplines. What with all the testing pressure there are not many elementary school districts willing to hand over what they consider core subject time to a subject that wasn’t even tested. I saw my students for less than 3% of the school week.

But please don’t make that a reason to include the Arts in standardized testing. Please.

I always thought there might be a little skepticism from my colleagues when I spoke about curriculum and teaching issues beyond the Arts.

And then along comes Rachel Branham and her book, What’s So Great About the Art, Anyway? A Teacher’s Odyssey.

Branham is an Arts Educator with a Master’s in the subject from the Rhode Island School of Design. She now lives in Massachusetts.

Although the book has an Arts focus, any teacher of any subject would be foolish to ignore it. She covers the topics of progressive, socially relevant curriculum, teaching and learning as well as anyone.

And she does it in graphic form.

A book on curriculum as a graphic comic.

Why didn’t I think of that?!

What’s So Great About Art, Anyway? A Teacher’s Odyssey.

Rachel Branham

Foreword by William Ayers

Teachers College Press, the Teaching for Social Justice Series


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