Preparing Teachers of Art

By Congdon, Kristin G. | Studies in Art Education, Summer 1999 | Go to article overview

Preparing Teachers of Art

Congdon, Kristin G., Studies in Art Education

Day, M. (Ed.). (1997). Preparing Teachers of Art. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association. 154 pp. ISBN 1-890160-016

Despite some early misgivings, I found valuable information in the pages of Michael Day's anthology and some proposed directions for the field that were intriguing enough to keep me up late, for at least one night, thinking about our discipline and where it is headed. The engaging ideas can mostly be attributed to Jim Hutchens, who wrote the last chapter. However, several of the earlier sections (especially by Zimmerman, Galbraith, and DiBlasio) give credibility to his bold, and potentially frightening, proposals for the field.

There is no debate amongst the contributors to this anthology that Getty's DBAE approach is a positive one for art education. Most of the authors, and certainly the editor, are on record for supporting a DBAE approach. In fact, this publication is a result of an October 1995 symposium on art teacher preparation funded by the Getty Education Institute for the Arts (formerly the Getty Center for Education in the Arts). Selected participants were invited to publish their papers while including responses garnered from the attendees. This history may explain why all the authors present their research as if they are already sold on DBAE without debate about any possible shortcomings the approach might have. Their ideas are also infused with the now-all-too-clear awareness that higher education is currently under careful public scrutiny. As Hutchens states it, reflecting on several theorists, "The value system behind higher education has come under attack by legislators and university governing boards, and faculty are often viewed as the problem" (p. 140). This uncomfortable climate, in large part, informs the need to change, look good, and do better. But that is not all. Because schools have so often failed students and communities, because reform is clearly underway, and because the status of art education has always been tenuous, it seems clear that we must quickly and carefully chart our direction before it is done for us.

In Michael Day's introductory chapter on "Preparing Teachers of Art for the Year 2000 and Beyond," he posits a plan for recruiting, preparing, and retaining good teachers. Day claims that our field "carries the knowledge needed to help improve teacher preparation programs" (p. 4). He lists recent events that have had an impact on art education: publication of the National Visual Arts Standards; national certification in art by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and the 1998 assessment by the National Assessment of Education Progress (p. 12). Other authors will repeatedly refer to these and other recent organizations and publications which are, like it or not, well on their way to changing the way art education is structured. Day gives us an organized approach for thinking about reform in teacher preparation programs. It is no surprise that the first programmatic component is Discipline Content.

Zimmerman's chapter looks at recent demographic research, gathered mostly from surveys, to find out who prepares art teachers and how they are prepared. Her chapter is useful, in part, because she describes the difficulty in finding accurate data. While she was able to make some preliminary findings, it is clear that more research is needed. She suggests, as do other contributors in this publication (notably Galbraith and Hutchens), that more established art education programs work with those who have not been brought up-to-date with current theory. Her second proposal is that the NAEA work with a private organization to maintain a database of demographic information on teacher preparation programs.

Galbraith examined books, articles, CD-ROM databases, and microfiches of college and university catalogues, as well as the Internet, to try to ascertain what art teachers are taught in preparation programs. She concludes that most art education programs have small numbers of faculty, many of whom have their primary focus elsewhere, and that the curriculum content of their preparatory programs is vast and varied.

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