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Re:[teacherartexchange] artists as teachers


From: Jerry Vilenski (jvilenski_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Jul 16 2006 - 05:31:30 PDT

I have read with great interest the string of
responses regarding the old artist as teacher debate,
mainly because I started some of it! I think it is
time to unruffle some feathers and look at the issue
from a slightly different angle. I think it was Woody
Allen who said "those who can't, teach, and those who
can't teach, teach gym"! If that didn't ruffle a few
physical educators, I would be surprised. The point
is, that when you teach in specialty areas, such as
music, dance, physical education and visual art, it
almost becomes incumbent upon those educators to, in
effect, practice what you preach. To what degree a
teacher does this is up to individual circumstances
and desires. I have a family, and spend the majority
of my personal time engaging in family activities. I
have spent many of my summers painting--the outside of
the house, the bedrooms, the hallways, not necessarily
artwork. I have changed more than my share of diapers
and attended all the soccer games, tennis and dance
classes. At the same time, however, I have tried to
set aside some time each year to creating art. I
began teaching, like many of us, relatively unprepared
by my university to real-life teaching. In those
early years, I spent the majority of my time trying to
be a better teacher. I started early on,however, to
set some goals for myself. I decided to complete at
least 2 painting per year. Then I increased it to 5,
and then so on until I had amassed a body of work I
could show and perhaps sell. Making money was not my
goal-making art was my passion and something I
considered part and parcel of my life as an educator.

I believe this has enhanced my teaching in ways that
are sometimes difficult to articulate. I can't
imagine taking a music class from a teacher who
doesn't play an instrument or sing at some level
beyond school, or attending physical education from a
teacher who doesn't participate in regular physical
activiities themselves.

In some ways, it is unfair that visual art teachers
are often placed in a position of continuously proving
to policy makers and the community the value of art
education. It is unfair that the math teachers don't
have to justify their programs by holding math
exhibits. It is unfair, but true. And it is unfair
that art teachers need to establish credibility to the
community by practicing art, but that, in my opinion,
is also true. If personal circumstances prevent some
of you from following the path I have chosen, I fully
understand how that happens. I'm sure many of you on
this listserve could make me seem like a total slacker
with the professional activities you engage in.

Our goal as professional art educators should remain
centered on our students, and somehow instilling the
passion for art in them that we have in ourselves.
How you do that is entirely up to you.

Vigilance, Jerry

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