Philosophy of Art Education
Two words that resonate with my beliefs as an educator are responsiveness and adaptation. I believe that every student is capable of achieving success and deserves the opportunity and encouragement to do so. Being responsive to my students interests is integral to providing that opportunity. I enter every class knowing that each of my students are at different levels of comfort, understanding and knowledge of the subject matter I teach. My goal as their teacher is to meet each of them at their own level and foster their curiosity to learn. I don’t believe that curiosity can be forced, because it must first start with a small spark of excitement or interest. Therefore, knowing what my students are excited about, whether it’s something in media culture or in their local community, is immensely helpful in getting them excited about my lessons. I believe that anyone, and I truly mean anyone, can learn to draw, paint, sculpt, carve or take a photograph. Those are simply skills learned through practiced repetition, however, my goal and passion as an art teacher is to foster so much more than that.
One of the largest factors that has shaped my teaching philosophy and focus on adaptive teaching is my own experience as a student in the art classroom. In high school, drawing and painting came fairly easy to me. I could accurately render a landscape or portrait and, for the most part, my teachers would simply praise my “good” artwork and hand me the next assignment. I knew which skills of mine were the strongest and I stuck to them. That is, until I took a class with Ms. Littig. She quickly recognized my areas of comfort in art and more importantly, recognized that this comfort was holding me back. I soon realized that for once in art, I was going to have to work hard in order to get a good grade. Ms. Littig was brilliant in pushing me out of that comfort zone to the point where I had to take risks for once, maybe even make a mistake and have to learn from it. I took many rigorous academic courses in high school, but my work ethic, self motivation and problem solving skills grew more in her introductory art course than they did with any of my other teachers. This approach to teaching benefits those, like my high school self, who have fallen into a rut, but it also helps students who have a more difficult time in art. My end goal is not to create a classroom of world-famous artists. I aim for higher achievements in my students, i.e. a feeling of success and self worth achieved through hard work and determination, risk taking and exploration of an unfamiliar material or subject matter and communicating personal passion through the visual arts. With these goals and expectations, any student, regardless of perceived “talent” can work towards success in my classroom.
In order for students to perform at their best, I have a responsibility to clearly outline all expectations and goals for each of my lessons. To hopefully turn MY goals into my students’ goals, I provide them with visual inspiration, explanation and demonstration. Almost every lesson I teach begins with an image-based inspiration slideshow, before even mentioning the lesson, to spark my students’ curiosity for what’s to come. This is one of my favorite uses of technology in the art classroom. Students see so much imagery online on their own, but my slideshows cultivate images that push them to think outside the norm and become thoughtful, creative decision makers. I also try to involve my students in the demonstration process as much as possible. In one of my high school photography classes I brought up a student to be the model for a multiplicity photo demonstration. This involved the student posing on one side of the frame and then “interacting” with themselves on the other side of the frame. I encouraged the student to have fun with it and do something silly. He decided that he would take this opportunity to “propose” to himself. The fun and silliness of the demo kept the other students’ interest without losing the vital information and technical skills needed from the demonstration.
As I mentioned before, my goal as a teacher is not to simply make good artists. That being said, I still have a high level of expectation for my students’ achievement. Because achievement in my classroom relates more to hard work, risk taking and problem solving, I must maintain an acute awareness of my students artistic ability, work ethic and comfort levels in the art room. By treating each student as an individual and unique learner I hope to foster as much growth and achievement in my students as possible.