I teach art in a K-12 district, one that struggles as a small school in
northern Wisconsin to stay afloat with budgets. Ours is particularly
difficult as existing in a national forest, there aren't as many home owners
where we glean property tax operating expenditures, something like only 15%
of our money comes from there...and we depend much on state aide.
Unfortunately our southern half of the state's legislators with more voting
constituents forget about us in the upper northern half, and aide is
Technology became an odd bed partner for me. Coming on staff a number of
years ago as a professional artist, I had technology experience using
Photoshop to promote my own art business, and the internet and webdesign for
my own websites and such. I never thought I'd know enough to teach a
computer graphic arts class, but turns out I know more than I imagined where
education is concerned and am the designated technology integration leader
for the district.
The thing I am concerned about is that the arts may risk losing tactile
hands on art experiences if we are not balanced and careful. After all...in
a budget fiscally fragile time, a school leasing its computers and all set
with software might really enjoy that the more computer or technology taught
the less money needs to go toward supplies each year.
I began my computer graphic art program six years ago with the seniors...but
faculty seeing what those students had been learning thought they could get
more use from the student's understanding and assistance if they received
such education earlier. So in the transition I have a full semester
sophomore CGArts class. We spend time in that course doing darkroom photo
development, digital camera, scanning and what not...as well.
Getting my first seniors next year that took CGA as sophomores already, I am
planning with the counselor to revert and eliminate the computer course
option at that level. I think it will be important to give students more
hands on art experiences, advanced in ceramics or painting, sculpture or
independent work...and think I'd best do this now before the school board
and financial planning thinks the numbers show I need less money for
supplies in my department. IF not careful, I think we could see traditional
art get phased out with those saying art is art and the mode does not
Personally...while I think students need the technology and creative side of
that...it would be a disservice to them not to have opportunity to roll
their sleeves up and get a bit messy!