Utah Teacher Fired After Showing Students Art

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AlwaysAttend, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Cohort

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    Jan 1, 2018

    Lol, that last sentence made me lose it.
     
  2. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Jan 1, 2018

    I AGRee at the teacher should have done due diligence by filtering the photos before showing them, but the school is also as much responsible by having the material available for teachers to use.
     
  3. 3Sons

    3Sons Connoisseur

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    Jan 1, 2018

    Clearly that's well beyond just immaturity -- the second is actually assault.

    Still, I hope you have good coping mechanisms. Personally, I'm not sure I would find just writing people up sufficient in those situations.
     
  4. Guitart

    Guitart Rookie

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    Jan 1, 2018

    I personally own these cards that I used once in class:
    http://www.professornoggin.com/games/10443-ART.shtml
    Note they advertise age 7+. There are several cards with "skin". When students started bringing these cards to my desk, to be on the safe side, I stopped using the whole box. Too bad because they are good learning materials.

    I know the teacher will need to rely on his union for legal support but If the teacher is a member of NAEA I wonder if this organization can assist him with his situation.
     
  5. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Jan 2, 2018

    I understand the point. My counterpoint is that there was nothing wrong with the images, there was nothing wrong with buying them, and there was nothing wrong with showing them to sixth graders. They should not have been destroyed. The teacher should not have been fired. The parents who complained should have been educated; if they insisted on remaining backwater troglodytes, then they should be ignored.

    I'm not a fan of deep-rooted hypocrisy. The ones who created this problem are making pretentious displays of righteousness. They are not the moral compass of humanity. Despite their protests, it is a far greater sin that larger society allow the wretched sensitivities of a select few to censor artwork of historic significance.

    The world is full of examples of runaway religious persecution. I suggest Americans think long and hard about where this road leads before bowing down before dogs.

    See here how American ignorance is again put on display for the rest of the world to ridicule:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5228189/Utah-art-teacher-fired-showing-nude-paintings.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  6. JimG

    JimG Rookie

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    Jan 2, 2018

    Since you argued, in your first paragraph here, that there was nothing wrong with the images, would you respond to my last question a few posts up? Given a picture, via any medium, of a naked person lying in bed and showing off their buttocks, what educational value is attained by presenting it to sixth graders? I certainly would not want my daughter having to analyze and write about such an image, which “Grand Odalisque” is.

    Furthermore, what evidence do you possess that the parents who complained were not educated?

    Following that, you lost credibility with everything after and including the “backwater troglodytes” comment.
     
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  7. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I answered it. Who covers up such images? Misguided puritans. Who destroys such images? The Taliban.
     
  8. JimG

    JimG Rookie

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    Jan 2, 2018

    Do we all agree with the decisions made by the concerned parents, the principal, and the school board? No. Can we empathize with where each of them was coming from and possibly learn from it in the future if one of us is on either side of such a situation? I would hope so.

    Overly simplistic generalizations and name calling aimed at entire groups of people, I feel, does not do anything to advance the discussion.

    And the question about the educational value of sixth graders analyzing an erotic image such as “Grand Odalisque” has not been directly addressed by anybody.
     
  9. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Cohort

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    Why would it have any less educational value than any other piece of art?
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    It wouldn't, but is more of a matter of age appropriateness and viewing without serious study that puts the one piece more in question than the other, IMO. The sex kitten look is still a staple of the porn come on's that mysteriously show up uninvited on some computers I use. I'm no prude, but doubt that if this art teacher hadn't studied the cards in enough depth to know what was on them, he certainly hadn't taught this serious study presentation that would be educational.
     
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  11. JimG

    JimG Rookie

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    Okay, let’s play that game.

    Photography is an art form. Say a sixth grader is tasked with analyzing a photo of a person they found in a magazine. Would picking a racey photo from a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition be appropriate?

    Film is an art form. Say a sixth grader is tasked with analyzing a scene from a movie. Would a strip-tease seen from Magic Mike be appropriate?

    Say, for a cross-curricular project involving art and English class, a sixth grader must draw or paint a scene from a novel. Would a racey scene from Fifty Shades of Grey be appropriate?

    My point is that just because it is art does not mean it is universally appropriate.

    In writing these responses, I realize perhaps I should have previously used the phrase “educational appropriateness” as opposed to “educational value.”
     
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  12. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    Jan 2, 2018


    @AmyMyNamey


    Wow... seriously? Do you know anything about this community this school is in? You have some nerve speaking about a group of people you have never met. That city is actually part of a highly educated area that does need people like you jumping on the chance to lash out at an entire community.
     
  13. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Cohort

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    Yes, that makes more sense.
     
  14. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    And pretty much everyone here agrees with that. We just don't get why the school can't be on the same page all the way across.
     
  15. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Absolutely. Why can’t a 6th grade student analyze 2 photos (or more) from sports illustrated in order to comment on society’s idealism of body image. Comparing Ashley Graham and a thinner model. That would be an insight a 6th grader is capable of. I think the dumbing down of our expectations is more damaging to a 6th grader than a photo in a magazine they’d be allowed to purchase legally or a painting.
     
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  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    For what it is worth, the teacher made an error, which included not having prepped his lesson well enough to truly know what cards he was handing out. Is that grounds for dismissal? I suspect we would need to know more about his usual state of preparation, and not one of us here can speak with 100% accuracy to that single matter. I would hope that years of great prep could counteract a single mistake, and if that is the case, he may well prevail. It is certainly in the court of public opinion at this point, and I think his chance of winning legally is fairly decent, barring any skeletons in his closet that have yet to come out.
     
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  17. JimG

    JimG Rookie

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    Okay, I could see the value in the example you presented. Regarding the appropriateness of a teacher distributing images of models posing in swimsuits, I would think not. It goes in line with Caesar’s post earlier about students being able to access certain books from the library even though the teachers cannot direct students as a whole to read those books.
     
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  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Cohort

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    Hahaha!
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 2, 2018

    I think where it gets dicey is when you have an art form whose racy style (or even simple nudity) is what defines and identifies it as a particular art form. Sometimes a given art form transcends what is age-appropriate. The ancient Greeks celebrated the perfection of the human body, so they glorified it in their art. If you're going to learn about the ancient Greeks, you're going to see some of their art, and most of their art is nude. When it comes to ancient art, nudity is the norm. Because of the influence of antiquity on Renaissance artists, you see the same thing with Renaissance art. The David is so significant that there really is no suitable substitute, and it's hard to justify an argument leaving the David out of lessons on Renaissance art, even if there is a bit of fairly candid dong.

    Now, certainly, I think that, say, erotica as an art isn't appropriate for young children in a classroom setting. I don't know enough about the significance of the images at the heart of this particular issue to know whether they are the best representatives of their kind or if there might have been suitable alternatives.

    Having taught the Classics for many years, I was often faced with this philosophical struggle. I wanted my students to get a full, broad picture of antiquity, but I also wanted to avoid getting myself fired over nudity. For me, the best choice was to simply avoid any kind of direct reference to nude artwork, just because it wasn't worth the hassle of having to justify anything to anybody. Let me tell you that it was often a struggle, especially during certain lessons. When we were learning about the gods, any quick google for Venus shows the Aphrodite of Milos and the Birth of Venus, both of which are suggestive. It's next to impossible to censor that stuff for my curious students, but I did feel that not censoring was not the same as direct instruction where I'd have to project a giant topless (and armless) statue onto the screen.

    My philosophical views on this topic are pretty much that we should be able to teach these topics in the classroom, that nudity in art is not the same as pornography, and that some art has remained relevant and significant even when it makes some people uncomfortable. My practical views on this topic are that teachers should really think about what they're doing in the classroom, and they should ask themselves whether certain battles are worth fighting right here and right now. In this case it sounds like the teacher wasn't really prepared to fight a battle--rather, he was just a little lazy and didn't prepare correctly, which is really unfortunate for him. In the end, I don't think that any student has been irreversibly harmed by his actions, and I think that, unless he's got some sort of track record of other questionable choices, this probably shouldn't be a career-destroyer for him. It should be a great lesson to everyone else, though, to be mindful of everything that happens in your classroom and to be prepared to be able to justify every one of those things. All our teaching should be deliberate and intentional.
     
  20. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Aficionado

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    I truly hope you followed up with admin to ascertain that these two incidents were dealt with appropriately (additionally, everything should've been logged in the student discipline system and parents contacted in writing and by phone).

    As an administrator, I can wholeheartedly say that these types of things should be taken incredibly seriously.
     
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