Teaching ART, Teaching ARTISTS, Teaching ART TEACHERS

Art Education, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Teaching ART, Teaching ARTISTS, Teaching ART TEACHERS


Teaching is complicated, and it is also complex: Complex in the sense that small, localized actions can contribute to large-scale shifts in the system as a whole. Teachers of art have the capacity to help to make these shifts visible in a way that everyone involved might better understand the relationship between the parts and the whole. Teaching teachers of art requires a continual testing, as the quote above states. Teachers of teachers must constantly shift between what is taught- content- and the form that allows this content to be communicated. This relationship between form and content is not a new conversation to many artist-educators. What maybe new is the language of complexity theory, which has introduced a range of powerful descriptive language in the sciences and humanities. In the language of complexity theory, this self-referential interplay would be called feedback.

Complex systems are able to adapt to changing conditions through feedback loops. Even in simple situations, such as home heating and cooling systems, larger conditions are determined through small-scale changes. The thermostat monitors the temperature of the room, and when the room cools down or heats up beyond the preset level, the systems turns on and regulates the area. The systems are kept in a state of balance, known as homeostasis, through continuous interplay between individual elements.

How do we monitor the large-scale attributes of the complex systems that make up Art Education? What is the current temperature of the field? Teacher education programs are one of the ways that small-scale educational actions register within the larger whole of what constitutes art educational practice. Each methods class, each student teaching experience, each cooperating teacher changes the whole of the field, ever so slightly. When I am teaching my methods classes, for example, I am relying upon my experiences as a Middle Level and High School Art Educator, as well as the research that I have conducted at the University level. Along with this, I am also referring to my own experiences as an art student, thinking back to my pK-12 art studies, as well as my own self-directed productions. I am thinking about my studies conducted in pursuit of my Master's of Fine Art degree.

All of these experiences fold into the content of my methods course. Inevitably, the content of the course is also influenced by the course itself. This reflexive, dynamic structure makes the teaching of future teachers a complex affair. The contentTeaching Art- is always caught in a self-reflexive relationship with the process of teaching. I am teaching about teaching through teaching. As the title of this issue indicates, teacher educators are often teaching content that is threefold in nature.

1. We are TEACHING ABOUT ART, in its many forms and varieties.

Many preservice art educators that I have taught have little or no knowledge of contemporary art. Even more surprising is the general lack of knowledge of art that is made within the communities where the students originate and reside. My first goal as an art teacher educator is to help to familiarize future art teachers with a wide range of modes and models of artistic production, particularly those that are within their own communities. This is reflected in "Hands-On Teaching in a Campus Museum: Linking Theory and Practice," by Denise L. Stone. This article outlines a course for preservice art educators that utilizes the campus museum as site for pedagogy that is dramatically different from the art classroom. In a similar manner, Timothy J. Frawley provides the reader with an example of a fine arts curriculum that engages students in explorations of art, music, and dance with the arts institutions found in their communities. His article, "Aesthetic Education: Its Place in Teacher Training," suggests that preservice art educators can begin to value the arts in their communities through coursework that allows them to engage with these experiences. …

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