Teaching Making

Experiments in Art and Education

A Line is an Edge


I am starting this very crazy year with one very simple element. Line. With all of the changes this year, new (unfinished) classroom, different course load, CAS coordinator position, I felt like it would be good get back to the basics. I love arts ability to foster critical things and creativity, big ideas, essential questions, that stuff is important, BUT there is essential value in time spent building skill. So the trick in teaching, as in art, is to find balance between concept and form.  How to investigate the concept of a line while building skill in the application of the element.  So we start by asking, “What is a Line?”

6th graders were prompted on the first day of class to individually come up with their own definition of a line and then to demonstrate in their sketch books as many different lines as the could. The only explanation of gave them of a line was that it was “an essential element of visual art”.   After about 20 minutes the students were grouped and asked to compare what they had come up with. Then as a group, on a large piece of paper they complied all of the kinds of lines they had come up with, naming them, and finally creating a definition of line. Invariably they all began by quoting my first description but when gently pushed each group came up with a their own unique definition. It was great to see them navigating the line between accuracy and universality.


After discussing what a lines is, visually speaking, we determined that it is, in fact, an edge. Students then took to the windows. Using white board markers they attempted to trace every edge they could see from their perspective

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