Refresh Your Lessons: Teaching Perspective in Creative and Engaging Manners


From this great lesson-plan on Teachers Pay Teachers

Teaching perspective. It is the bane of many an Art teacher’s practice. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school the topic of perspective is a common theme in the Art standards of any state. As a group, we seem to have teaching atmospheric perspective down. I see varied, interesting, provocative, and intriguing lessons about atmospheric perspective all the time. But, Art teachers seem a bit stuck on varying lesson types for linear perspective.

Teaching perspective, which has roots in science and geometry, isn’t easy. Perspective tasks students with tapping into the more math-oriented parts of their brains. This is frustrating for some students, unattractive for others, and almost impossible for a few (I was in the impossible group as a kid).  So, when it comes to teaching perspective are we too challenged? Or, are we just bored of teaching perspective? I suspect that the answer lies somewhere between the two.
A lil’ water-damaged b/c I hung it too close to the water fountain. Lesson by Mini Matisse
When we are bored with teaching a lesson, there is very little chance our students are going to find it compelling. In order for our students to be engaged, we have to present information that is interesting, and provocative to us. In short, we have to be excited about the content too. I’ve talked before about how I had to stop teaching the “cubistportrait” to introduce Picasso because I was so OVER it that the student workwas always b o r i n g. Taking a break from our standard (and sometimes tired) units/lessons can be a good thing. This year, I’ve returned to teaching the cubist portrait and it feels fresh, awesome, and good (and the student work is all of those things too).
Teacher boredom = poor student artwork.
Engaged teacher = dynamic student work.
We know the more engaged we are, the better the student work. So, ERMERGERHD, why (why!) are we using the same three-four tired lesson plans to teach perspective?!  Aside from the fact that students attend school for 13 years and probably are repeating these same lame-o lessons at least 2-3 times each, there are waaay better ways to teach perspective. Like, for reals, y’all. WAAY better ways.
Forced perspective lesson by me
And, if you are nervous about teaching perspective because thinking in three dimensions just ain’t your thang (and you’re not alone; it’s not my thang either). . .We live in the 21st century. You have “the googles.” You are reading #arted blogs. There are tons of amazing resources –and teacher tutorials- for teaching perspective in compelling ways!!
And, I’m putting together a master list of my favorite perspective lessons for you.  So, you’ve got nothing left but excuses.
First, try to avoid the over-played, perspective lessons (unless you’ve got some fresh twist on em). You know what they are:
~1 pt perspective room / Van Gogh’s bedroom
~1 pt perspective building on a corner
~1 pt perspective road/river/gate that disappears at the vanishing point
~1 pt or 2 pt letters/name in space
~1 pt or 2pt geometric shapes/dice in space
Here is a list of awesome, fresh, compelling, and provocative ways to teach perspective that are guaranteed to interest your students AND help you feel successful as a perspective-teaching Art educator:

Utterly perplexed by how to explain perspective to students?
Are you a perspective expert? Need an “extra” challenge for your students?

3 thoughts on “Refresh Your Lessons: Teaching Perspective in Creative and Engaging Manners”

  1. Hi, Amy!I too have a love-hate relationship with linear perspective. My cooperating teacher made me teach it while I was an intern and I just about gave myself an ulcer trying to figure out ways to get the concepts across. I still struggle with instructing this lesson at the 6th grade level – they either won't use their rulers, or they won't use the vanishing point, etc. I am open to suggestions! I just wrote a blog article about this very subject ……..

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