What Art Should Students Know by 8th Grade? Concordia University Chicago Professor Unveils Online Art Curricula for Parents, Educators

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Can you identify at least 80 art masterpieces by sight? A Concordia University Chicago professor says children should be able to identify at least that many by the end of 8th grade. And she's developed a free online curriculum to help parents and teachers encourage a knowledge of art history at a young age. Debra Herman, M.F.A., Concordia associate professor of art and art education, has spent the last three years developing the comprehensive, grade-specific art history lessons at http://www.cuchicago.edu/artlessons.

See the lessons and test your own art knowledge at www.cuchicago.edu/artlessons.

And, it's a great link to examining the kinds of art made in current conditions when viewed from current economic, social, political, religious and other perspectives.

Can you identify at least 80 art masterpieces by sight?

A Concordia University Chicago professor says children should be able to identify at least that many by the end of 8th grade. And she's developed a downloadable learning tool to help teachers encourage a knowledge of art history at a young age.

Debra Herman, M.F.A., Concordia associate professor of art and art education, has spent the last three years developing comprehensive, grade-specific art history lessons that teachers can download online for free.

She and the University have just launched “Artists and Their Art: Sharing Visual Stories,” her curricula of core art knowledge for elementary and middle-school students, at http://www.cuchicago.edu/artlessons.

Lessons for grades one through five are online now. Each grade level features 10 lessons, one per month for the academic year September through June.

Among the great works and lessons featured are Winslow Homer’s “The Country School,” Wassily Kandinsky’s “Improvisation 31 (Sea Battle)” and Mary Cassatt’s “The Letter.”

Lessons for grades six and seven will be added over the next year, and lessons for grade eight, by 2012.

Each lesson highlights one specific work of the artist with compositional information about the work and suggested questions for classroom discussion. The lessons place the artists in historical context and provide biographical sketches, extensive bibliographies for additional reading and suggestions for hands-on art production projects related to the artists and the types of art they produced.

“So many teachers today focus only on art production—the making of art—because few have the time or resources to include a historical perspective in teaching art,” Herman said. “Having been a Lutheran school teacher, I know time is not plentiful.”

Yet students most effectively learn and experience art through a discipline-based approach that encompasses art production, aesthetics, criticism and history, Herman said, citing research in art education through the Getty Foundation.

“When students know about art from the maker's perspective and the context of what was happening in the world at the time the work was made, so much more is learned and appreciated,” Herman said.

“And, it's a great link to examining the kinds of art made in current conditions when viewed from current economic, social, political, religious and other perspectives.”

Working with available public domain images, Herman’s lessons focus on artists through the 19th century. Whether known or relatively unknown, “all lived interesting lives in addition to their contributions of art,” Herman said. “I also tried to include women, which was not easy because there is sometimes not a lot of recorded history on women artists in the 14th through 19th centuries.”

“Artists and Their Art: Sharing Visual Stories,” was funded by the Chicago-based John and Frances Beck Foundation, which promotes literacy and learning among children, youth and adults.

“With the technology available today and arts education programs in need of teachers and support, the board agreed Deb’s project was unique, needed and worthy of the foundation’s support,” said foundation trustee Charles W. Laabs, Ed.D, a Concordia professor emeritus of educational leadership.

Find “Artists and Their Art: Sharing Visual Stories” online at http://www.cuchicago.edu/artlessons.

CONTACT:
Kim McCullough, Director of Community and Media Relations
708-209-3122

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