An Evolving Feminist Leadership Model for Art Education

By Thurber, Frances; Zimmerman, Enid | Studies in Art Education, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

An Evolving Feminist Leadership Model for Art Education


Thurber, Frances, Zimmerman, Enid, Studies in Art Education


An evolving feminist leadership model for art education, designed by the authors, is discussed with an explanation of how criteria of coherence, completeness, and appropriateness were used for analysis of four previous models and the current model. The fifth model in the series is described as containing four stages (personal voice/reflective practice, collaborative voice/collaborative practice, interaction of personal and collaborative voices, and personal actions and professional products). Examples are offered as to how the model was developed both theoretically and through research practice. Future directions for further studies in the area of leadership and art education are suggested.

Art educators have conducted research that has informed art education theory and practice, but this research largely is a record of individual, independent studies that have rarely been replicated; collaborative efforts in related studies and follow-up research have been sparse (Zimmerman, NASA Research Commission, 1993, p. 2).

The National Art Education Association Research Commission report, Creating a Research Agenda Toward the 21st Century, was distributed to art educators in 1993 (Zimmerman, 1993); yet now at the beginning of the 21st century the need for the kinds of research advocated by the Commission is still relevant. One example of the kind of research deemed important in this report is research we have conducted for about a decade. Both of us have been involved in researching leadership issues in art teacher education and have collaborated on a series of studies that focused on both theory and practice related to this topic. Our goal has been to educate inservice teachers to become empowered and assume leadership roles in a variety of educational contexts (Thurber, in press; Thurber & Zimmerman, 1996, 1997; Zimmerman, 1997a, 1997b, 1999, in press). Most teachers in the United States are women, except in higher education, and it is an important project to discover means to help empower them to become leaders.

Although research about inservice art teachers has been increasing in recent years (Galbraith, 1995; Zimmerman, 1994, 1997c), there still is little inquiry in this area, particularly about developing leadership roles in art education. The following conceptual models and research studies were motivated by our interest in discovering whether inservice teachers, studying in summer programs at the Nebraska Prairie Visions Institute and at Indiana University Artistically Talented Program, were able to build community relationships through networking; take initiatives to change their classroom practice; engage actively in the content of their disciplines; and eventually become effective leaders in their schools, communities, and beyond.

In our careers as researchers, we often have employed visualizations of our ideas so that we could convey meaning in a schematized and elegant manner. Both of us have backgrounds in the fine arts, and it seems natural that we would depict our understandings of certain universes of discourse both discursively and non-discursively. As visually-oriented researchers we often diagram concepts and create symbols to explain how components of leadership, as related to the field of art education, might be integrated and understood as a comprehensive whole. Wilson (1997a) explained how he "created matrices to show the content of art education and the behaviors associated with it" (p.7). He further discussed how these matrices lacked flexibility and humor that can be found in artist Mark Tansey's visual conceptualizations. Tansey created a wheel-like form that consisted of concentric rings on which ambiguous statements were written. With a spin of the wheel different combinations of statements could be produced at random. Inspired by Tansey's diagrams, Wilson constructed a circular diagram that displayed different components of art education research and how they could be combined and related to one another to create research content. …

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