When I was a college teen volunteering in an after school creative arts program many years ago, I brought in some pasta, beans and glue to create a textural collage. A curious 5 year old asked me why I was putting glue on the food. That moment was pivotal for me. I had hardly embarked on my training to be an art educator and visual artist, but I resolved never to consider designing a lesson with my viewpoint in it. Apparently food was so expendable I thought I could use it for art making. Today as I enter the final phase of my career having reached retirement age but still teaching (I do love what I do), I know my teaching is shaped by my views, but I perceive my role as an artist/teacher so, having provided some concrete foundation for learning, my students can apply their newfound skills to their own visions.
Politics in the classroom can be very dangerous.
My teaching context is very diverse-both culturally and economically. My focus is teaching a concrete body of knowledge about visual arts while simultaneously encouraging the students to produce unique creative work that taps into their own sensory responses. This is how I view visual arts education in a democratic society. If we digress far afield from our discipline w risk the outcome of sabotaging ourselves as artists and teachers.
In recent years I have done some metalsmithing. Before I could be creative, I needed to learn some basic skills: sawing, filing, soldering. I hated all these steps and even tried to fake a few projects that had some good ideas but sloppy craftsmanship. I realized I admired finished pieces that were both unique and beautifully executed. This is the message I give my students (public urban school grades K-8) at all levels.
What disturbs me is the divisiveness of art educators. I do not see so much disparagement in other fields.
Barbara from Boston
On Jun 30, 2010, at 7:56 AM, Leslie Lynn Gates wrote:
This article has been a hot topic on the NAEA Higher Ed Listserve in the past week or so.
I am glad for a diversity of perspectives and opinions in our field. However, I am always troubled by press that portrays art education in a bad light, so to speak. With so many art ed programs on the chopping block, I was sad that someone from inside art education took their critical views to such a public forum when art ed is already fighting to exist in many places. I hope that school boards and administrators do not use the article to justify further cuts in the arts.