Lesson 4B: The Influence of the Arts on Policy

Lesson 4B: The Influence of the Arts on Policy        Grade level: 6-10                  Time: One class period

Cross Curricular /Cross Lesson: 2A: Influence; 6E: Pol. Cartoons; 6F: How Do Others See Us?

PDE Academic Standards: 1.6.8/11; 4.8.7-12; 7.1.9; 7.4.9; 8.3.9; 9.2.8/11; 9.3.8/12



–Students will examine the influence of the arts and culture on policy making

–Students will determine the value of the arts in society



Seeking the Greatest Good

Power point of Ansel Adams photographs (Adams1.ppt)

Excerpts from Emerson and Thoreau (Appendix J)

Brief history of Adams’ role in the creation of the the Kings Canyon National Park


Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – We borrow it from our children.”

                                                                                                                                                -CHS Hallway


–View Chapter IV of Seeking the Greatest Good

Show the students excerpts from the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  How do they think such works contributed to the attitude shift of the general population regarding the environment?

–Show students the power point that contains an opening quote by Ansel Adams, describing one of his photographic experiences.  Show students the photographs and ask them to write for each photograph a one word, brief description of what they feel when they see the photograph.

–When the slideshow is complete, Ask the students to share some of their emotions and their thoughts on the photographs and then ask them as a class these questions, eventually determining Ansel Adam’s role in the conservation movement:

            —Consider the quote and then the photographs taken by Adams.

–What does the cliché mean then, that “a picture is worth 1000 words”

–How did these photographs influence you?  How did they make you feel?

–How do you think Adams’ photographs influenced policy makers as opposed to the documents you have     read describing the landscapes that would eventually become the national parks?

–Have the students read the one page narrative on the life of Ansel Adams and then ask then to explain:

–How are Adams’ pictures are called a “double-edged sword” of sorts – “anachronisms” of the “last   confident and deeply felt pictures of their tradition”

–Why does the author assert that “….It does not seem likely that a photographer of the future will be able    to bring to the heroic wild landscape the passion, trust, and belief that Adams has brought to it.”

–Do you consider Adams a Progressive?  Thoreau?  Emerson?  Why or why not? Determine their role in      the       conservation movement.  Were they more for preservation or conservation?  Why?


Closure/Summary:            (3min)

Follow-up Activity:

For homework or as an extension group project, have students find evidence of current uses of art (illustration, cartooning, and photography) to influence policy or attitude.  Have them present the issue, the artwork and the outcome.



Students will be evaluated on the quality of their responses.



This activity does not address any of the chosen Key Questions for this unit, however value can be found in connecting the arts to students’ academic subjects and the instructor can formulate their own questions as deemed appropriate.

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