Emergent Places in Preservice Art Teaching: Lived Curriculum, Relationality, and Embodied Knowledge

Article excerpt

This article explores how student teaching experiences provoke preservice art teachers to rethink curriculum and pedagogy as an organic and living space that is connected to place, community, and local knowledge. Based on a larger qualitative study of urban preservice art education student teachers, the journeys of two student teachers are highlighted as case studies. By investigating information collected through student teacher interviews, classroom observations, and video elicitations, these cases exemplify how student art teachers embark on a journey that facilitates becoming a teacher through emergent and responsive curriculum that integrates art, materiality, and place. We highlight the importance of conceptualizing preservice teaching as an embodied and relational way of knowing, as well as the important role that place, as a focus of curriculum, might have for effective and meaningful field experiences. Implications are discussed in terms of preservice teacher education, urban teaching, and curriculum studies.

As preservice teachers embark upon their student teaching experiences, they bring with them their own unique beliefs, interests, and understandings of curriculum and pedagogy. Often unfamiliar with their assigned K-12 school(s), and the students and cooperating teacher(s) with whom they will be working, preservice teachers encounter many uncertainties. But, as they spend time in the schools interacting with the school subject matter, mentors, and students, they continue to grow, and encounter the surprising and challenging experiences of becoming a teacher. In this article, we rethink curriculum and pedagogy as an organic, material, and living space as we examine student teaching as an embodied and relational way of knowing, emphasizing knowledge-in-the-making (Ellsworth, 1997, 2005) and teacher/teaching as becoming (e.g., Unrath & Nordlund, 2006) rather than a fixed end-state or set of practices. Based on a qualitative research study of preservice teachers engaged in urban field placements, this article depicts the specific experiences of preservice teachers as they encounter curriculum and pedagogy in the making. While we discuss implications for preservice teaching in urban teaching placements, we recognize that our findings and implications may also resonate with those who supervise, teach, and/or research in nonurban settings.

We depict two cases that highlight major themes of our research. In the field of teacher education, research has paid increasing attention to the importance of understanding the "particulars" of teaching that case studies illuminate (e.g. Dyson & Genishi, 2005; Stake, 1995)the circumstances, dilemmas, interactions, and social context of a classroom setting, and the ways that such contextual knowledge paradoxically informs a broader understanding about pedagogical practices. Rather than [focusing on] generalized principles derived from research, teachers need to view concrete examples of teaching in which the details of everyday classroom practice provide practical Ideas for and insights into teaching praxis (Merseth, 1996; Shulman, 1992; Wasserman, 1994). Lived examples may also be a source through which teachers can gain confidence through identification with the particulars of a setting.

The first student-teaching case study depicts a community-based ceramic tiles project initiated by the student teacher's concern about the disconnect that her students seemed to have around conceptions of art. Focusing largely on the built environment, her work with the students culminated in a public exhibition that depicted their neighborhood. The second student-teacher case highlights a knitted public installation that took place on school grounds. The artmaking emerged from the margins of her teaching placement, and was intended to alter public perception of the built school environment.

Preservice Teacher Education

Student teaching arguably has been considered the most significant component of teacher preparation (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996). …