Art in the Classroom: Overview

When Jeff Jarvis published What Would Google Do? it was a wake-up call to all of us.  We found ourselves agreeing and, when faced with a challenge, think how Google would handle it.  With the invention of Google our lives have been completely changed.  I can’t even fathom what life was like before Google.  Google, both a noun and a verb, has changed the face of our lives today, especially as educators.

So, when Google announced last week that the Google Art Project, one of Google’s pet projects,  had expanded to include 151 museums from 40 different countries, it got me thinking about the importance of Google and all this uber-company has brought to the classroom.

This particular project is impressive.  It’s like Google Earth meets an art museum.  Students can select a museum and essentially walk through it like they would on a Google map in street view.  While “walking” through the museum students are able to zoom into particular pieces of art or rotate and examine the setting in which the art is held.  They are able to truly experience a museum from their home.  This weekend, while “visiting”  the Musee d’Orsay, I kept finding pieces that related to literature my students had been studying.

Heralded by many as a way to engage students in critical thinking, art certainly has a place in the English classroom.  Analyzing an image is similar to analyzing a text:  students have to think about how the elements within the “text” help to support the form, purpose, and argument.  If anything, it is harder because they don’t have literal words to rely on for analysis.

We’ve focused a lot over the last few months about the importance of visual literacy, typically through photographs and primary sources.  However, with such great resources, like Google Art Project, English teachers also have a lot at their disposable to incorporate paintings, sculptures, and architecture in their classroom.  This week we will partnering heavy hitters like Shakespeare, Salinger, and Fitzgerald with Picasso, Monet, and da Vinci and helping you bring art into your classroom.

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