The Rembrandt Teaching Project (TRTP) was initiated with three major objectives in mind. First, it sets out to introduce classroom teachers who may not be art specialists to the art and artistic biography of Rembrandt. Second, it provides teachers with an introduction to discipline-based art education that, ideally, can be used in conjunction with TRTP. Third, by concentrating on the life and achievements of a landmark artist, it shows how the artist and his art still speak to us today. All of these objectives connect to the Project's major philosophical goal, that is, curriculum should involve both the transfer of knowledge and the transfer of culture and at its core must be experiential.
To these ends, classroom lessons that are experiential in nature, encouraging students to partake in inquiry-based, hands-on learning experiences that promote problem-solving and encourage interdisciplinary connections have been designed. Additionally, information on computer technology integration is provided. The computer age has enhanced the study of art and we have cited a variety of media materials including CD-ROMs, laser disks, and texts that can enrich the study of Rembrandt's art.
The first part of the Teaching Guide consists of lessons that focus on Rembrandt's paintings, sketches, and drawings and how they can be taught in the classroom. These lessons are structured to begin with an art history context for each work followed by a description of that work. Each lesson continues with suggestions for instruction and ideas for extension and assessment activities. Some lessons also contain brief "factoids" on Rembrandt's life and how life events influenced his work.
The second part is a Companion Guide that takes many of these works and further extends their use in a classroom. These lessons are more interdisciplinary, drawing upon a multiple literacies approach to connect the works of Rembrandt with core content areas.
An important note: all of the lessons contain suggestions both for visual and non-visual learning experiences. Any teacher considering using these lessons is encouraged to have his or her students create a Rembrandt Project Portfolio. This portfolio should be designed to include products that students create through exposure to the project. These can incorporate not only progress pieces such as drawings and sketches of visual ideas, but also reflections on the entire artistic journey. The lesson plans refer to "reflection essays." These are the thoughts, feelings, and ideas students may form as they meet Rembrandt and get to know both him and his work.
Finally, while this Teaching Project centers on one artist, its plan, in a broader sense, is to make the visual arts an indispensable part of the total education process of students. If this intent is realized, we may begin to achieve that delicate balance between the power of the intellect and the power of the imagination, coming to celebrate art as, in the words of Lincoln Steffens, "a border of flowers along the course of civilization."