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On Sat, 10 Jan 1998, wendy sauls wrote:
> i just have to jump into the teacher prep discussion. i am a florida s.u.
> and u of f grad. i got undergrad degrees in art ed and visual
> communication. i feel my art ed training was superlative and my studio
> classes were the norm. i had a studio prof who told us to "just make some
> art" and several others who were absolutely inspirational and whose
> teachings i refer to frequently.
> 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...
> Wendy Sauls
> Art Teacher, Kanapaha Middle School, Gainesville, FL
> Doctoral Student, Art Education, Florida State University