The Global Classroom

The Global Classroom (G:Class) is an interdisciplinary education program that examines issues relevant to world history classes and contemporary art. Using exhibits at city museums, the course encourages visual literacy and critical thinking skills in high school students by integrating contemporary art into the core history curriculum. G:Class is designed to enhance critical thinking through discussions around critical issues that affect the lives of students and issues of global importance while increasing creative and communication skills.

The program helps students draw conclusions based on visual evidence while at the same time finding personal means of self expression; facilitates in-depth exploration of critical issues, creating a forum for ideas, dialogue, and exchange about global issues; and enhances visual literacy and critical thinking skills while exposing students to challenging subject matter.

As an example, students participated in the exhibition "Unmonumental" at the New Museum, a major exhibition of 21st century sculpture by thirty international artists, with layers of collage, sound, and internet-based art added in three subsequent parts. The show grows and changes like a giant assemblage.

“Unmonumental” was less interested in expanding the definitions of a particular medium or technique than on zeroing in on a way that visual art can help define the moment in which we are living. The opening of this new century seems defined by the disappearance of monuments and the erasure of symbols, marked by indelible images of destruction and ruin, from the fall of the Twin Towers to the obliteration of the Bamayan Buddhas, and the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein. It comes as no surprise that this first decade of the 21st century has produced an artistic language of fragments and of debased, precarious, and trembling forms, sounds, and pictures.

Meeting History Standards
Standard 2: World History
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.

Standard 4: Economics
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the United States and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and nonmarket mechanisms.

Standard 5: Civics, Citizenship, and Government
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the United States and other nations; the United States Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

New Museum works with artists/sculptors from the exhibitions and sponsors their visits to the classroom. Artists running seminars in the past have included workshops, discussions, presentations, and critiques. The artist will discuss contemporary art practice, problem solving techniques, and influences as well as address one or more of the curricular themes. This session also provides students with insight into what it means to be a living and working artist.

Readings: 
Readings reflect the current museum exhibition
Media Used: 
Create a mixed-media collage that demonstrates (BluePrint Visual Arts, pp33): Use of a variety of materials such as acrylic paint, crayon, ink, cardboard, string, photographs, printed material; Variety of textures and shapes; Unity of composition; Integration of text
Or, Create a sculpture that demonstrates: Awareness of spatial relationships and balance; Unity through color, shape and pattern; A variety of two- and three-dimensional objects
Significant Assignments: 

Uilizing the work of four artists to explore current events including war, politics, and protest. These artworks will spark interest around the current war in Iraq, world economies, disappearance of public space, and different forms of resistance and protest in addition to cultivating students’ visual literary skills and critical thinking.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

Materials and Method, Part I focuses and develops students’ research, writing, and verbal skills as they investigate different artistic methods, artworks, and artists and present their findings to the rest of the class. These presentations build a strong base for the rest of the curriculum.

Materials and Methods, Part II students will present findings from the previous session. This session also exposes students to some of the most contemporary artwork of our times and will discuss methods, materials, art practice, and conceptual thinking. The class will investigate how artists engage critical issues of cultural, societal, and historical significance through an inquiry based discussion of carefully selected images.

Research: 

Focusing on one of the artists included in the exhibition, research other sources, including news media, photography, and other artists' work that is relevant to the themes of the current exhibition.

Sample PBATs: 
A final project that reflects the major themes of the current exhibition and the relationship between art and social and political issues.
Recent themes:
Fallen or Disappearing Monuments of the World
Politics and Protest
Media, Consumer Culture, and Waste
Fragmentation, Fragility, Uncertainty, and Violence