I know that President Obama just made fun of Art History majors in a speech. But the truth is that Art History majors may not graduate with a skill (which is not the aim of a university anyway), but they should have studied what it is to be human (which is the aim of a university). In other words art history is one of the degrees that should (I note the word “should,” if properly taught) expose the university student to a progression of artists and media in response to the periodization of history. This is, actually, a fantastic approach to teaching history in secondary education. In this sense art history is an excellent avenue for home school parents/teachers or for teachers of history in private or parochial schools.
Well, I have an incredible resource for all of you home schooling parents out there, or for parents supplementing the art education of their children in private schools or public schools. The resource is called Smarthistory.Khanacademy.org.
I am certain that many of you are already attuned to this invaluable resource, but for those who are not take the time to investigate. You will not be disappointed.
Begin with 1800 to 1848, the Industrial Revolution—part one. Take, for example, JMW Turner’s “Rain, Steam, and Speed — The Great Western Railway.” This painting is dealt with by art historians Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. A wonderful video of the painting and documentary images surrounding this time encourages discussion (leading to deeper thinking and, yes, learning). As one who both studies J.M.W. Turner and pedagogical aids that enhance discussion in the classroom (I teach at the graduate level at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, Fort Jackson, South Carolina) I give this site an A+ (or, when in Great Britain, a First Class Honours). In the classical model, Smarthistory should fit very well with dialectical and with rhetorical stages of learning.Note: Faith for Living and Michael Milton do not endorse the worldview or any particular views or positions espoused at Smarthistory.Khanacademy.org. Like all secular resources out there, the information given should be reviewed and filtered through your own lens. We do recommend the concept and the resource and trust it will provide information to enhance discovery, critical thinking, and reflection.