Well, geez. I think I'll go out on a limb and (probably) rattle a few cages.
I've been reading comments about this topic of discussion with great
interest. What a variety of opinions, really, and many good points have been
made. Personally, I went through college and have a MSED in Art Education,
along with the seventeen years of classroom experience. Yes, I teach part
time now, but at one point, worked full time, and taught 52 classes of art
grades K-5. I have worked in a double wide trailer( with no water), rolled a
cart or carried a tray, had a big room with one sink, and a smaller room with
four sinks. I have had principals and faculty who were supportive, and
principals and faculty who were not. I have had large budgets, and small
budgets, long class periods and thirty minute "visits" in which we DID
actually accomplish goals. I have been responsible for Fine Arts weeks, in
which I was responsible for a school wide art display featuring one piece of
work for each child( all 1200+ of them) AND responsible for securing visiting
artists/performers for both music and the performing arts for that week. I
spearheaded a "grass roots" program which identified local artists and
invited them to share their talents with the school children.
(Have I paid my "dues" yet? Just curious.......)
I don't really think it's how much or how little I did or did not
"suffer" as I went about the job of teaching children art. I think it just
sort of comes with the territory, kind of like "What don't kill you makes you
stronger." How much are the "dues" ? What benefits are there in becoming a
member of the club? Who is allowed to join? Are some members more worthy,
like perhaps high school art teachers, vs. those who teach elementary
students? Now, I urge you to think about that one carefully. Here's why---
I returned to visit a high school art teacher in the system where I used to
work. He was showing me work by several of his students, many of whom I had
had in elementary school. They remembered me, and we talked about the
progress several of them had made and how talented he thought many of them
were. IF those children had not felt successful in art at a young age, what
might have been the chances they would have chosen art as an elective as they
progressed through high school? What's the probability that they will
continue to be art advocates as they become adults? HHmmm....Pretty good,
One plus of an Arts In The Schools program is that it gives children the
opportunity to see that art can be a career, just like being a firefighter,
businessman, or teacher. I don't believe it was EVER intended to be a
replacement for the art program, just the same as a field trip to a science
center could ever replace a science curriculum. Enrichment and appreciation
is what it's about.
I also used to get the "You're not a REAL teacher because you
don't....or because you do......" and my response now is to LAUGH and say
"Oh, well, please don't TELL anybody, then." If I'm not a real teacher, that
is...Because it says so on those diplomas I received, and it says so on my
CONTRACT, donchaknow, and if I'm not a real teacher, then they'll make me
give back all that money they've paid me for all these years..." and I've
learned to negotiate through all those "extra" duties they want to pile up on
me because I don't have a homeroom. (Yes, it can be done, sometimes.)
I was also wondering how art could be considered a subject that could
be taught like math or science when you don't even use the same part of your
brain for those activities most of the time? Art cannot be assessed the same
way in which math or science are. The emphasis in art is in developing
creative and divergent/critical thinking--some theories even say "productive"
thinking. Art provides ways in which children have the opportunity for
freedom of expression with a multitude of "right" or "correct" answers.
Creative math? Well, math may be taught creatively, but I think basic
concepts such as multiplication and addition will remain constant, and two
plus two will forever equal four.
Yes, art deserves respect, and let's celebrate creativity and work
together to find a way to lead by example. And let's gather all the others
who want to become art teachers too, as many, varied and of all different
abilities as they may be. There is not just "one" right answer in the
question of "What is art?" There is also not "one" right answer as to "Who
should teach art?", but I do hope that those who enter there will do the
1) Know something about artists and the principles of art. There are
references everywhere. Use them.
2) Know something about how to make art. There are references for
this, too. Practice before you get in the classroom to teach, or you'll be
unprepared. Try to get REALLY GOOD in at least one studio area.
3) Know something about the age and developmental skills about the
children you will teach. Read research. Practice what you've read to find
out what works for you.
4) Know a lot about yourself. You'll learn even more as you teach
children about art.
I have fun in art, but I work hard, too.
P.S. In Georgia, I believe you can get a provisional good for a short amount
of time, but you must be working toward certification.