Teaching History Through the Arts

Nathan Glick shows his WWII sketches.

Nathan Glick shows his WWII sketches.

How do we, as civilians, understand war?

Nathan Glick, a WWII veteran and combat artist, brought World War II to life for SUPER teachers June 11 with his portfolio of portraits of heroic WWII pilots and sketches of combat and soldiers at leisure. At 98 years old, Nathan Glick vividly remembers every location where he witnessed and recorded the personal stories and graphic images of WWII. Last week at the SUPER Institute, teachers explored World War II, considered by many to be the last “good” war, through art, music and literature. The lead scholar, Dr. Alan Brown, professor of English at the University of West Alabama, showed the PBS documentary film “They Drew Fire” about the 100 U.S. servicemen and civilians who served as combat artists in WWII. You can see the art gallery of their work, often unseen since the war, on the PBS website.

Members of the June 9-11 SUPER Institute program.

Members of the June 9-11 SUPER Institute program.

The SUPER Teacher Institute exemplifies the theme of the keynote address “Student Voice—through the Arts” by Dr. Tommy Bice, the Deputy State Superintendent with the Alabama State Department of Education. Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts (AIEA) invited Dr. Bice to be the luncheon speaker for the AIEA Teacher Institute in Montgomery, an AHF grant-funded project. Dr. Bice challenged teachers to listen to students and understand their interests through the arts. As an example of the integration of arts to teach the core curriculum, he used his own positive educational experience in the arts in elementary school in Alexander City. As a young student, he played the Mad Hatter in the play “Alice in Wonderland.” In an effort to decrease the number of dropouts in Alabama schools (currently about 5,000 a year), Dr. Bice believes that all children can become engaged through the arts. He quoted Ron Edmonds, an influential educational researcher: “We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us.” The arts are a powerful tool to hear the student’s voice and to teach history, literature and mathematics.

Written by: Susan P.