Friday, August 20, 2004

Teaching Primary School Children about Japan through Art

Teaching Primary School Children about Japan through Art. This essay has some neat ideas for teaching elementary schools kids about Japan using art techniques.

From the site:

There are many reasons for teaching about Japan. Many students in the United States are of Japanese heritage; Japan is the second largest trading partner of the United States; and some healing still needs to occur between the U.S. and Japan after the damage and pain of World War II. Further, the U.S. and Japan share the Pacific and its waters and fisheries. Mutual cultural understanding and effective communication skills are necessary for the best use of these shared resources.

Many primary teachers excel at teaching about Japan through means such as food, language, holidays, and artifacts. Visual art should be added to this list. Two- and three- dimensional representations are powerful ways by which to integrate Japanese studies into curricular areas and into development of critical thinking skills.

The ideas of this Digest are offered to stimulate thinking about Japanese art, visual thinking, and practical applications for the study of Japan using art. Additional lessons on teaching Japanese art are available at


Some familiarity with Japanese aesthetics will enhance any exploration of Japanese art. Wabi, sabi, and suki are important yet illusive concepts that explain the notion of Japanese beauty. Wabi denotes simplicity and quietude and incorporates rustic beauty, such as patterns found in straw, bamboo, clay, or stone. It refers to both that which is made by nature and that which is made by man. Sabi refers to the patina of age, the concept that changes due to use may make an object more beautiful and valuable. This incorporates an appreciation of the cycles of life and careful, artful mending of damage. Suki means subtle elegance referring to beauty in accidental creation or unconventional forms.


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