I received your newsletter ART ADVOCATE - December issue - just a few days
ago and would like to respond with some of my thoughts in agreement of
I can relate to all that you say about art teacher training (let
alone...reg. teacher art training) being the pits (my words) as far as
content goes. I've had previous discussions with university
professors...some even on our listserv...who relegate most of art teacher
training to the study of art teacher history of education, reg. teacher
history of education...nothing to do with the actual teaching of art.) It
blows me away...makes me angry...that all that time is what I consider
less-well-spent and leaves the potential art teacher in a state of
confusion about what to do when faced with 35 kids and a need for a
balanced curriculum....forget the need to know how to set up a budget and
know resources for ordering supplies and finding morale support.
I went to a very prominent university back in the 60's and thought my art
education methods classes would see me through my career. Wrong! I was
never taught elements and principles..only projects and very little actual
methods. I learned them on my own while teaching but that method took a
long time to accomplish and many kids passed by me in the process. It would
have CERTAINLY benefited me to know them while building up my curriculum of
projects and art history. I stumbled through several years with this
limited knowledge thinking everybody was having the same difficulty, that
it was normal....and, quite frankly...most of us were but were afraid to
admit it thinking we had somehow "missed the boat" in college lectures. It
angers me that this is STILL happening. Some professors argue that it isn't
the case today. That's easy to say but I see new art teachers and even
supposedly knowledgable, more experienced ones not understanding what is
missing in their teaching. The "project" and the "experience" is there but
no true art-related knowledge is forthcoming.
Probably the MOST angry I get is when a reg. teacher (or someone like a
shop teacher) in our middle school arena is assigned to teach a couple of
courses of art to middle schoolers. The teacher doesn't even know how to
draw...much less TEACH it. No learning is taking place...just time being
filled ( but no brains!). Kids are frustrated...reg. teacher is
frustrated...parents are frustrated (throw up their hands and say, "Oh,
well. It must not be important.")...administrators are happy 'cause the
reg. teacher has a schedule spot filled and kids have a class to go
to...counselor is happy 'cause there's another "dumping ground" class
available...and art education is lost in the melee. And, most of all, we
then sit back, muse, and wonder why the teaching of art isn't considered an
academic subject. Ha!
I have another "beef" about professors who "visit" their student teachers'
classrooms to "observe". How in the world can these professors make an
acceptable evaluation of someone else when they themselves haven't been in
the classroom as a teacher in a few, some, (in most cases) many years? Time
quickly changes one's perspective when you haven't been dealing with large
numbers of kids (which has been growing steadily), in the attitude of
students (which has changed drastically in the last 20 years...or even 10
yrs.), even dealing with parents' demeanor (parents are frustrated,
overworked, stressed, disenchanted with education).
All this is becoming a "whole new ballgame" and professors aren't
understanding these changing perimeters. I'll give them credit for
acknowledging the changes, but until you've actually TAUGHT in these
situations, you can't fully understand what's needed. It's easy to make
judgements from the grandstand but you really need to get back in the
ballgame to know what's happenin'. I would propose professors having to
teach in primary or secondary classrooms for at least 3 weeks/yr. to get
the "feel" of what's happening out here in real-worldland...to see if the
methods, project ideas, techniques they're teaching really works with an
ADD second-grader. It's one thing to teach college-aged students...quite
another to teach thirty-five 8th graders...six times a day. Trust me.
Ahhhhh...(she takes a breath). Sorry to ramble but I just get so frustrated
with the unjustness of it all!
Have a very good new year. I intend to make mine super regardless of the
point of my tirade. (She smiles bigtime) Cya............
Los Cerros Middle School
Danville, California 94526