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my teaching experiences (10 years) have been varied and challenging,
probably similar to most other art teachers -. rural elementary and high
school with severely economically disadvantaged students, at a similar
in-town middle school, and now at a brand new m.s.
i have grimaced at what i think are the frustrations most all of us
experience - lack of budget for materials, lack of respect for
education/intellect (i have been asked several times through the years if
we have to go to college to teach art, if we had to take other courses
besides art in college, etc.), shock at how the home life of some students
is so drastically different than what we consider to be normal, feeling
like there is never enough time to get things done, wondering why we can
have a such a fabulous art museums yet few students go there outside of
school field trips, trying to figure out how to make sure kids know about
perspective and shading and the "classics" and how to look at and talk
about art and are finding their favorite art and creating their personal
definitions of beauty and making artworks that are both educational and
personally fulfilling...i'm sure anyone else out there could pick up here
and continue the list for almost an eternity, which brings me to my point!
if i had gone to school long enough to learn about everything i feel i
needed to know to be a good teacher, i would not have started teaching yet!
no one told me, for example, that it is very important to make absolutely
sure to make sure the lid is tightly and completely secured to a glaze jar
before you begin to shake it, especially if it is a nearly full jar which
needs to be shaken vigourously and also happens to have something in it
which certain individuals may have a tremendous allergic reaction to, and
most certainly if you are teaching over an hour away from your home and
there are no substitutes available for your class because you are simply
out in the boonies and you do not have a change of clothes at school,
either... from that day on, though, i DID have spare clothes! and i was a
lot more careful shaking things, and thankful that my students didn't laugh
for too hard or too long, and helped me clean up the mess, and either
didn't notice my tears or didn't mention them. i never learned in teacher
prep what to do with so many of my kindergarteners who had those weird,
oozing sores on their skin, what to do with the girl who came to me and
told me about another teacher harassing her, or even exactly how to draw a
finger pointing straight at you, like in the Uncle Sam poster.
i think there are a lot of things we have to learn from experience, and
sometimes the hard way. i think it would be great if, in our teacher prep,
we could get some exposure and training in art making methods and
techniques, but we can't learn them all. thank goodness for community ed
classes and the public library, where you cheaply get instructions in
almost every media! it would be nice to get some art history in, too -
diversity is good - i learned almost solely about dewm's in my classes and
have had to do lots of research to learn about MY favorite art (some call
it "craft") from Oaxaca and the San Blas islands and Japan. halleluljah
Internet! aesthetics, too, but if you think we art ed people are having a
tough time of it, talk to someone in the philosophy department!
most of us do experience frustrations teaching art and seem to be almost
constantly working to improve our knowledge, repertoire, teaching/inspiring
capabilities. i think the frustration and the struggle to improve has lots
and lots of sources, starting with the dissonance from our (we as
artists/art eds) outlook upon life in general and that of the rest of
society in appreciating beauty, craftsmanship, imagination, creativity,
etc... i also think some of this frustration may be because there are a
lot of perfectionists and driven art teachers among us, who are never
satisfied with average or mediocre but who strive for the stellar and no
matter what kind of teacher prep they had, they will always be breaking
their necks to be better. and there are, unfortunately, others who, no
matter what training or prep they had, would stink.
I do not think it is fair to dump the blame for our frustrations into the
laps of OUR teachers.
it wouldn't hurt to try to look back and identify some of those wonderous
role models we have had (like Bunki and others have done) and thank them,
to encourage those profs and others who gave us the gifts we use every day.
i agree completely with those who have suggested art profs should and must
come out into our classrooms on a regular basis, to stay in touch with
reality. where i teach, they do - they come to our meetings, hear about
our problems, and help us out. i know this is not the case in a lot of
other situations, though. my suggestion for a change in teacher prep may
not be too popular but its one i feel strongly about, and i guess this
applies to all ed majors, but i think the other subject requirements for
graduation AND certification requirements could be a little more stringent.
math wasn't my favorite subject, but i was down right embarrassed about
the ONE weenie math class i had to take to graduate. the florida state
teacher certification exam, at least when i took it 10 years ago, was
equally wimpy. and art ed majors should definitely have to take the same
studio classes as art majors! while we're at it, maybe we should look at
recertification requirements, too?
it's ok, i'm well prepared for lots of boos, groans, and so forth...
Art Teacher, Kanapaha Middle School, Gainesville, FL
Doctoral Student, Art Education, Florida State University