WOTA misses mark for art education

Feb. 23, 2016

As the Arts and Rec Editor for the Royal Purple, one might think that if anyone liked World of the Arts (WOTA) it would be me, but those people would be mistaken.

Column by Aleda Johnson Arts & Rec Editor
Column by
Aleda Johnson
Arts & Rec Editor

The purpose of art, in my humble opinion, is to be appreciated, to inspire thought and feelings, to express political and social opinions and to make the world a deeper and more beautiful place. But my WOTA class never made me see any of that. My online WOTA class took a subject that should have been engaging and interactive, and turned it into a chore.

I admit, I am partially to blame for the failure of WOTA. I had a bad attitude about certain topics we learned about, and everyone knows you get out what you put in. But I also know I speak for the majority of students when I say I had a bad attitude.

The biggest problem I had with WOTA was that I was being lectured to in a class that should have been almost 100 percent interaction. Art is about provoking feelings, seeing a bigger picture, and it is hard to do that when you are forced to listen to art history from years ago, instead of letting the art do the talking.

All WOTA classes are a little bit different, and I know that some classes have more of an interaction component than others, but overall I think the university misses the mark when it comes to providing students with an enriching art general education course.

WOTA doesn’t make students retain art history; it makes them unhappy with Gen-Ed classes and good at cramming for exams. WOTA  also doesn’t teach students to appreciate the art around them; it makes them dread learning about artists from decades ago. Lastly, WOTA doesn’t make students want to continue learning about modern art; it turns them off from it completely.

To have a successful WOTA class, I think we need less teacher’s choice curriculum and more student-based focus.

If we truly want all majors to be able to appreciate art, the university should have a class less focused on art periods and more focused on art that actually speaks to the individual. Most people will never find it beneficial to know what style a painting is, but what they may find inspiring is the meaning behind it. Teach students ways to see art for more than something to hang on the wall or listen to in between classes.

We need less papers and more exposure, less PowerPoints with photographs and more in-person experience. The four vouchers we get for actual art experience aren’t cutting it.

Art is wonderful. It can bridge cultural gaps, make us more open, challenge our normal ways of thinking, expand our mind and change the world. Learning about art is a great thing when it is done in a way conducive to people actually wanting to learn and retain information. WOTA needs to focus on real life, not lecture material.

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