What is it that interests students of the 21st century? How can I, as an art educator, peak interest, understanding, and learning in my students? These questions are at the root of my teaching philosophy and I strive to answer and revise them as I grow and learn as an educator. My objectives as an art educator are to meet student learner's needs, while also encouraging an appreciation of art, a perception of critical and creative problem solving, and a pursuit of life long learning.
Students lives' of the 21st century are embedded with technology. I believe technology can naturally be interwoven into the art curriculum in a way that improves student learning and understanding. For example, students can digitally photograph their work and create online artists statements for parents and teachers to view. I believe that harnessing student's interest in technology and teaching them to use it as a tool is a way to encourage life long learning.
Not only do I believe that technology has a place within the art classroom, but also literacy, history, math, environmental science, world culture, and current events can find a way into interesting and engaging lessons. In order to carry out the integration of these subjects, I believe it is necessary to collaborate with general education teachers across other disciplines. By collaborating with other teachers and integrating lesson ideas into a hands on creative processes, students will experience a full understanding of subject matter. Recently I collaborated with a 6th grade social studies teacher on a Greek unit. In this class, students learned about the Greek Olympics while at the same time in art class I taught students about Greek theater and mask making. The fact that students were studying Greek culture in two different disciplines brought a deeper understanding of the subject. I also believe that when students hear and see teachers working together and sharing ideas it sets a precedent for collaboration across the curriculum.
In order to facilitate students’ growth, inquiry, and appreciation for art, my role as a teacher is not only to present The Elements and Principles of Art, but also to forge a ground for playful exploration. As important as it is to have a good art concept for a lesson, I feel as though it is equally important to give students room to explore and experiment with the art medium. This can also give them a chance to investigate their personal interests, which will help them gain confidence and allows them to begin forging their own pathways. While in school I believe that students need the time and space to listen to their minds, hearts, dreams, and imaginations among the everyday stresses of the world. Allowing an exploration of media offers students the ability to create from their heart and experiment with ideas.
Not only do I have objectives for my students within the classroom, I also have objectives for myself. I intend to facilitate the appreciation of art, discover students' interests and inspirations, teach to learner needs, and promote creative problem solving and a pursuit for life long learning. These objectives will only be met, however, if I myself am inspired and passionate in the arts. My interests lie in the natural world around me, and my paintings show the fluid and peaceful presence of what I see. If I myself set an example of passion, inquiry, and excellence my students will learn to do the same.
Only if you learn what gives you true joy will you be able to help your students find what gives them joy.
- Parker J. Palmer