I made it all about the students and how they reacted to the different arts. There were no right or wrong answers because this was all about them. Yes they needed to describe some of the artistic features or techniques used by different artists or different art forms, but mostly it was "Did you like it, and why or why not?"
The course is a survey course of five major areas of The Arts: visual (painting and sculpture), performance (dance and theater), architecture (buildings and bridges), Music (classical, jazz, pop, and opera), and what each of these different forms communicated to each student individually.
We discussed famous art works, Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," Van Gogh's "Starry Night," and Michelangelo's "Pieta." Different forms of dance, Flamenco, Tap, and Ballet. I was surprised how popular ballet is with many of the students. We discussed popular music; including rock and rap, as well as jazz and opera.
Week three covered architecture, which was interesting to me because it is a subject I don't know much about. Examples included the great cathedrals of the middle ages and Roman aqueducts still standing in France.
One of the assignments in the prepared course was to compare the ancient Roman aqueducts to your city's water system. I didn't like this assignment because "your city's water system," isn't one of the Arts covered in the course. I certainly know about my city's water system since I ran for the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) twice and lost both times.
I couldn't change any of the pre-existing assignments during the class, but I'm scheduled to teach the course again next week and I plan to change that assignment to comparing the Roman aqueducts to the Brooklyn Bridge.
There are a lot of jokes about the Brooklyn Bridge, but it was a modern masterpiece of architectural design when it was opened in 1883. My mother wrote her Master's Thesis in History on the Brooklyn Bridge, but when someone else published a book on it she would have had to start all over again with a new subject. So she never completed her MA and got married instead. That's why I'm here, because someone else published a book on the Brooklyn Bridge.
At the end of the class, most of the students were very turned on to the Arts. Several posted comments similar to this one.
"I honestly did not think I would have enjoyed this class. I thought it was based on knowing pieces of arts and who made them and why they are significant in the world. I really thought it would just be another history class. Thank goodness it was the complete opposite. We actually got to tell how we express ourselves and why art was important to us and others. We went beyond art and it was very eye opening to see where we have come from and where we stand now as artists."
Wow, what a great response. That's exactly what I intended in teaching this course. It is not about the Arts, but about each student's perception of the arts. It is about what the arts communicate to them, not me. It is for them, and I'm really pleased to see that this class opened up students to having the arts in their lives. That's what's important about this course, and I really loved teaching it.