JANUARY 14, 2004

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Rose State Honors Project introduces humanities to fourth graders

Fourth graders typically don’t study works by Shakespeare, Van Gogh and William Blake, but thanks to Rose State College student Shawn Dreher, one local fourth-grade class is getting an early introduction to humanities.

As part of her semester-long honors project, Dreher worked with 19 fourth graders in Mary Witt’s class at St. James Catholic School. They heard William Blake’s poem “The Lamb,” experimented with molding and attempted to paint in the styles of Monet, Di Vinci, Michaelango, Van Gogh, Gauguin and other famous painters. Their last project was to analyze poetry by Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost and then write their own poems.


Rose State College student Shawn Dreher reads to fourth graders at St. James Catholic School in Midwest City as part of her honors project to introduce humanities to elementary students.

Dreher, a sophomore business major at Rose State, said her project centers on the questions, “How early can we introduce the subject of humanities and get positive results?,” “Can 4th graders grasp humanities?” and “How early does one appreciate and understand art forms?”

Rose State Humanities Professor Karen Holt suggested the project to Dreher.

“After discussing the idea with Mary (Witt), the challenge was accepted,” Dreher said. “It was attractive to me because it’s hands-on and different from my usual classes.”

Dreher said the response from the students was “magnetic.”

"The students were attentive during the readings and learned to appreciate how difficult it is to sculpt or paint something and have it look good,” she said. “This exposure to the students and their response to this exposure reveals they do understand, grasp, interpret and appreciate the artists’ messages.”

The Rose State College Honors Program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Great Plains Honors Council. Rose State students may contract with faculty members in certain academic courses. The contracts are designed as extensions to the regular scheduled courses and, if completed satisfactorily, will earn honors credit for a non-honors class.

Contact: Vicki Patterson, 1-405-733-7458