Here at Northern Arizona University we have a triple track program for
undergrads that gives students broad experience in content and professional
knowledge. In this program students are not required to take a minor;
rather, they focus on art, art history, art ed, and general ed.
Students in my art ed program are required to take 12 hours of art
foundations (drawing, color and design, and 3-D classes), 12 hours of art
history, a minimum of 18 hours studio, 19 hours of art ed, 18 hours of
education, 12 hours student teaching, and 35 hours of liberal studies.
Some students opt to complete a BFA along with this art ed degree. Others
complete the BFA and then return for art ed endorsement with a master's
On another topic ---
Last year I won a large grant to team entry-level students with seniors. The
seniors mentored the entry-level students as they developed and presented an
after-school outreach to a local at-risk elementary campus. I feel that
placing students in classrooms "first rattle out of the bag" helps them to
decide if they are cut out to be teachers. This was a hugely successful
project that I am writing about for one of the (ah hum) boring art ed
I was an elementary art teacher for more than a decade. Too many student
teachers came to me with limited or no experience in classroom management.
They had plenty of theory, but no practical application. I am hoping that
the NAU mentorship program will extinguish that cycle, at least in my neck
of the woods.
I enforce the idea within my art ed students that they are the change
agents for our profession. I don't listen to their complaints unless they
have at least one viable solution to offer. If you have a complaint or issue
about the profession (and I recognize that there are plenty), think about
how you would or could address that complaint or solve that issue.
To this end, I encourage each of you to complete some research in your own
classroom and write something for one of the journals. If the journals are
not meeting your needs, then fix it. The only way things will ever change is
if you do it. Be a change agent.
If you don't want to write for one of the journals, how about writing for a
periodical such as School Arts?
One final thought before you start throwing tomatoes---
Keep in mind that university instructors are a different breed that is
somewhat apart from k-12 educators. It's just the nature of the beast
brought on by the requirement that most programs require instructors with
terminal degrees (for art ed, that is usually a doc degree). Terminal
degrees are highly specialized. One thing that I am seeing (and that I like)
in some graduate programs is that students must have three or more years of
successful teaching experience to be admitted to graduate education
programs. Something along those lines would at least partially resolve the
issue of having inexperienced educators teaching education courses at the
university level. It seems to me that when an education instructor who has
never been in an actual K-12 teaching situation is somewhat akin to having a
brain surgeon who has only read books about the procedure he wants to
perform. That's certainly not the guy I want cutting on my frontal lobe! Why
on earth we allow students to go directly into grad programs without field
experience is beyond me.
In my mind, we need a balance between theory and practice. Theory without
practical application is a waste. Practical application with a theoretical
background is weak.
As my husband is fond of saying, raindrops make rivers. Reflect upon the
history of art ed. We have had and continue to have a few visionaries who
change our professional thinking. It only takes a seed of thought to get the
ball rolling, but you can't be complacent. You must be proactive and vocal.
Look for other raindrops to help make your river.