Ah, early September. While many of us are dreaming of one last beach getaway, teachers and students around the country have already headed back to the classroom. You might be surprised, however, to hear some of the ways artworks in SAAM’s collection will be showing up with them!
This July, SAAM welcomed 59 English/language arts and history teachers from 25 states and China to participate in one of our week-long Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities through Art. Participants spent five days with the museum as their classroom, learning with museum professionals and one another to explore how American art can be a conduit to meaningful learning across the curriculum. By the end of the week, each teacher had designed a lesson concept using at least one artwork from SAAM’s collection. Based on some of these lesson concepts, here are 5 ways teachers will be using American Art in their classrooms this year:
Building Critical Media Literacy
Lexi Hartley, an English and history teacher for grades 6-12 in Ithaca, New York, teaches about Japanese American internment during World War II in her “Childhood and Conflict” course, so she quickly connected with Roger Shimomura’s Diary, December 12, 1941. The 1980 painting was inspired by a diary entry written by Shimomura’s grandmother, a first-generation Japanese immigrant who was interned in Minidoka during the war along with a young Roger and his family. Hartley will use the painting as a way to discuss generational differences in experiences of internment, but also as a connection to the idea of government propaganda. The shadowy superhero figure in the painting alludes to the way Superman was used as a symbol of American power during World War II, and used to justify anti-Japanese sentiment and legislation. Having her students analyze examples of these comics from the National Museum of American History, Hartley believes they will become more critical consumers of visual media in their own lives.