Professional development workshops for Gotham staff are designed to serve as a forum to experiment with ideas and explore connections between works of art on view at the Whitney and classroom curricula. We want to increase teachers’ comfort level with using works of art as primary sources and as a starting point for discussion-based learning in the galleries and in the classroom.
During this one-hour workshop in 2010, the Whitney Biennial, teachers explored connections between contemporary art and classroom curricula. Besides looking to books and the Internet for information about the art and artists, teachers considered alternative sources such as wall text and audio guide transcripts. This was the first workshop jointly-led by a Gotham teacher and a Museum educator.
Teachers learned various non-discursive strategies and participated in gallery-based activities while exploring two exhibitions, Dan Graham: Beyond and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room. They wrote a collaborative short story at Graham’s Heart Pavilion, (1991), enjoyed a dance party in Graham’s Public Space/Two Audiences, (1976), and responded in poetry to Oldenburg’s and van Bruggen’s Soft Viola, (2002).
In this two-part workshop, teachers worked together in groups to brainstorm interdisciplinary connections for selected works in the Whitney’s collection. Teachers also considered the role of multi-media resources such as YouTube videos in deepening students’ understanding about the art or artist.