Throughout the last two years of my life, I have discovered how much hard work and passion goes into properly educating students today compared to previous methods used in the past. As a student, I knew what I wanted in an educator, and now that the tables have turned, I know what kind of role model I want to be for my students.
As an Art educator, it is important to note that most children are visual learners. We use expressions to show how we feel. We use colors and symbols to know when it is okay to cross the street. We tend not to care about something until we can physically see the damage that it is doing to us and our environment. Art itself is a powerful medium in which to express what it means to be human. It is not only important to teach students through visual mediums, but to also teach them how expressing themselves visually can be impactful on others.
Another important aspect of teaching art is that it teaches students how to use creative problem solving in difficult situations. Many students have come up with different ways to answer math problems compared to the methods that were taught. Though these students may configure the same answer, many get shot down for not using the approved method that was instructed. Instead of being told that what they are doing is wrong, students should be praised for finding a different way to complete a hard task that works for them. Creative problem solving can be applied in every occupation. Art class is where students start to use creative problem solving skills, because the only limit to art projects is your imagination (and the school’s art budget).
Art also helps students who are visual learners in other subjects that may not be visual subjects. Subjects such as English, history, and even science constantly ask students to draw or make graphs to add a visual or artistic aspect to what they are learning. When art and main subject teachers integrate their lessons, it can form a strong connection to that subject for students. An example of this would be my youngest sister. During my first year at Stout, I was in the play “And Then They Came for Me”, which was put on through Arts Integration Menomonie, about two Holocaust survivors. One of those survivors, Eva Schloss, came to two of our performances to discuss her experience after the show. My sister saw this show, and afterwards she wanted to learn everything she could about the Holocaust. Integration has always had an important role in education, and will continue to be so. It is an art teacher’s role to explain the importance of integration to their fellow teachers and to work with them whenever necessary.
The best part about art education is that anyone can be an artist. Yes, some are better than others, but you don’t have to be smart or popular to be successful in art. Art doesn’t judge based on race, or religion, or sexual orientation. Everyone can enjoy art. Everyone can make art. It has no limits. The only limit is what the teacher can provide to the students. Accommodating for disabilities and cultural differences can make a big impact on a student and their family. Creating a lesson that could be difficult for a disabled student or one that is insensitive to a student’s culture can be disastrous. Every student can create art. A great teacher finds a way to each their lesson to all their students, despite disabilities, and a great teacher educates themselves on a cultural subject before they present it to their class. A great teacher is always learning.
In today’s practice of education in the United States, teachers need to have passion for the subject they teach. Teachers get paid so little for the impact they make on a child’s life. However, being a teacher isn’t about the money, it’s about knowing that you are making a difference. That may sound corny, but many teachers provide safe spaces for students in their classrooms. Some inspire to students to turn their education in a subject into a career, and some make school a place students can call a second home. School is an escape for some children from everything they go through at home, and making classwork difficult can make things worse. A teacher’s passion to help their students needs to equal their passion for the subject they teach. I understand that more than anything right now, and intend to apply all of this to my future classroom.