The topic of "Who Should Teach Art?" (elem teachers vs art specialists) is
certainly not a new one...our literature is littered with questions and
references related to this issue. If we go back to the beginnings of "art
education" in this country we find that Walter Smith worked with
"classroom" teachers in Mass in the late 19th century (not art specialists)
in implementing the first (state-mandated) drawing program for public
I think though with the tightening of school budgets and conservatism
evident in some states (like here in Florida) art specialists are afraid of
losing their jobs (....to generalist classroom teachers). My art education
students have even become sensitive to this issue (one asked me questions
like: How COULD I teach classroom teachers to teach art? Won't these people
take OUR jobs away? etc.,)
I've sailed back and forth along the continuum on this one...right now, I'm
somewhere in the middle recognizing validity in arguments on both sides.
(Art should be taught by specialists AT ALL LEVELS...but, it should also be
infused into all areas of the curriculum as well.) I must admit, however,
that I fear the days of the "specialist" in elementary schools are
numbered. Which I don't think necessarily is a good thing. When I look at
the preservice classroom teachers going through our program, there is a key
chacteristic missing in most..."a fire in the belly"...a passion for
engaging in the creative process.
Now, of course, that raises the question...Is it necessary for someone to
make art in order to teach it? I'll leave that one alone and allow others
to ponder and debate it.
In closing, I'm reminded of my elementary art teacher, Ms Ebel, who came to
our classroom every Friday and brought with her great passion and excitment
for making art. I'm sure she's a major reason why I became an art teacher
myself. I wonder what might have happened to me if my art education at the
elementary level had been left to my classroom teachers?
I'm off to classes. Enjoy your day.
CRAIG ROLAND. Associate Professor-Art Education.
Department of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville Florida.
32611-5801. (352) 392-9165 - Art Ed Office (352) 392-8453 - Fax