STANDARDSWORK CONTRIBUTES TO THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES "PICTURING AMERICA" PROJECT
George Will¡¯s recent syndicated column, ¡°A Tiny Bit of Artful Government¡± commends the National Endowment for the Humanities¡¯ Picturing America project. StandardsWork had a role in this outstanding project, having served as educational consultant on the Picturing America Teacher Resource Book.
As we wrote there, ¡°The well-rounded student not only has to meet state standards and demonstrate proficiency in the foundational skills of reading, writing, mathematics, and science, but also has to be able to make inter-connections among disparate disciplines. In a culture that rewards students for evaluating and synthesizing increasing amounts of disconnected information, the visual arts encourage the breakdown of walls that separate these disciplines. They offer students the opportunity to explore the subject matter of the standard curriculum through a different lens and to forge links among them.¡±
Part of what StandardsWork did for the Picturing America project was to suggest how to incorporate each of the 40 thought-provoking images and scenes from America¡¯s past and present into the classroom to reinforce curricular content not just in the core areas of history and English language arts but in disciplines as diverse as economics, geography, civics, and the sciences. We suggested, for example, that the image of Frank Lloyd Wright¡¯s Fallingwater could be used to reinforce or extend lessons in ecology, physics, or geometry; that Mary Cassatt¡¯s painting, The Boating Party, might be an excellent jumping-off point for lessons about the women¡¯s rights movement and the nineteenth amendment; or that Thomas Cole¡¯s View from Mount Holyoke could introduce important historical figures (e.g. Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau) and primary documents (e.g. Alex de Tocqueville¡¯s Democracy in America). The essays and resources accompanying each image provide an easy reference for teachers to use to enrich their lessons and create a robust approach to interdisciplinary learning.
¡°Without a doubt one of the most profound changes in the 21st Century is the proliferation of images. More than ever before, students live in and through the visual culture that surrounds them. Indeed, there has never been a generation more ready to be reached through the medium of art,¡± said Susan Pimentel, StandardsWork board member and lead investigator/writer on the project.
The Picturing America project is still gathering fans. For more information (including how your school can sign on to participate), please visit the official Picturing America website.