The Business of Art Education: A Fairytale Adventure

Article excerpt

Packaging Your Art Education Program

School reform initiatives designed to improve school quality require strong leadership, strategic planning, data analysis, and systemized performance accountability. Utilizing school reforms includes rethinking curriculum and instruction to improve quality and promote equality, restructuring school operations with a focus on both the students and the faculty, collaborating through partnerships with community agencies, and inviting school community involvement to gain a competitive edge in today's educational climate (Lieberman & Miller, 1999). Additionally, advocacy for the arts often relies on many of the same practices of successful business including visibility, competition, presentation, creative financing, partnerships, and flexibility. Thus, the business of art education is multifaceted and complex.

First and foremost, art educators who are highly skilled in ahgning resources need to package or brand individual art education programs to guide students throughout the learning process. Several contemporary theories in art education are put into practice in the examples provided by the authors of this article. Each is heavily steeped in integrated curriculum practices at a transdisciplinary level (Crawford Burns, 1995), In these post-modern approaches, curriculum is co-constructed with students, parents, and community members to serve overlapping needs and interests among participating groups. Students are engaged in servicelearning pedagogy centered on authentic problem solving of community-based issues of importance to both the school and the community served. Students are guided through a series of linked inquiry-based learning experiences, reaching their own conclusions as they develop necessary skills to work cooperatively while navigating the multiple perspectives of diverse groups. Through the following fairy tale adventure, the authors creatively share the impact each has had on the arts and student learning within their communities and will further articulate how contemporary theories and pedagogies are interwoven to place the visual arts at the core of curriculum. They share how they have positioned the arts in a place of power within their community while uncovering various aspects of how they have flexibly adapted to address the ever-changing demands of dealing with the business of art education.

I'll Huff and I'll Puff

Once upon a time there were three little pigs and the time came for them to leave home and seek their fortunes. Before they left, their mother told them, "Whatever you do, do it the best that you can because that's the way to get along in the world." The first little pig built his house out of straw because it was the easiest thing to do.

My early experiences as an art educator were much like those of the first little pig. My art education training and beliefs were grounded in teaching art techniques and media through a formalist curriculum that emphasized the elements of art and principals of design, just as the pedagogy of the art teachers who had instructed courses I took in school did. Of course as mother pig had advised, "to do my best," every lesson plan was almost scripted in advance, and teacher examples established preconceived outcomes. I provided training to dozens of parent volunteers to ensure standardized mounting of students' artwork throughout the year. The annual art show, hosted by myself and the PTO Art Resource Committee, boasted two to four pieces of work from all 500+ students, and was well attended. The artwork I selected from student portfolios represented my evaluation of each student's best work. Student "Artists in Action" from each grade level conducted "hands-on" demonstrations throughout the evening, while inviting participants to become involved, thus shaping the "packaging" or "branding" of my art program.

The first little pig thought her house made out of straw was strong enough to withstand the big bad wolf. …