Wednesday, November 7, 2012
“Perception is primary, to see is to think” This quote by Richard Serra, (Films on Demand, n.d) is one that rules my instruction and has filled my thoughts the last few days. The balance of the quote is “to think is to see”. The gestalt nature of this quote as a whole is one that is directly applicable in the learning condition of my art students. There is much more necessary to instruction than Watson’s or Thorndike’s Stimulus and Response but a number of James Hartley’s principles are an integral part of the strategies that I employ in the classroom (Smith, 1999, para. 2). I have been working with Art 1 students in the learning of the visual vocabulary of art. Most students being new to the visual arts and art thinking find great difficulty in visualization of the written definitions of the Elements of Art and the Principles of Design.
I am finding that the activity of learning by doing is extremely important for retention. Repetition of techniques and frequent practice reinforce the learning experience and as any sports athlete can attest, with the growth of the physical muscle comes also the muscle memory that is so important for stamina and lessoning of mental fatigue. This applies to sight training as well as for kinesthetic hand skill development. For the student’s to learn how to determine value exchange, surface treatment, intensity of hue and other visual and tactile issues the students need to build "muscle"memory and perceptual abilities of the visual and other sense borne types. The development of these perception skills advances student capacity to understand the Gestalt found in the visual world. The operant conditioning involved in the employment of behaviorist strategies when combined with stimulating and varied methods of instruction can provide the positive reinforcement and positive learning experiences that promote creative and intellectual growth for students that may only have this short opportunity to develop and express themselves with.