I watched a bit of Mr. Holland's Opus the other day. This is my all time favorite teaching movie and I can't help myself but stop and watch some of it whenever it is on. The scene I caught was his first day ever of teaching where he asks a group of high school students "What is music?" This scene got me thinking... what is art?
I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about this question. This is partially because of a cricket at my window and partially because I am a bit stressed about the start of the new school year. I want to change things up a bit and challenge the students to be more thoughtful in their work and in their perception of the world around them. But I worry that I may be aiming above the heads of my middle school children.
In "What is Art?", Leo Tolstoy says:
Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.
I believe this. So perhaps it is time to raise the bar and to engage my students in deeper thought. Perhaps it is time to ask the question, "what is art?"
Middle School Art Educator. Adjunct Art Education Professor. Non-Profit Arts Organization Board Member. Artist. Arts Advocate. Dog-Mom. CrossFit Enthusiast.
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