Philosophy of Art Education
What did you say?: Understanding and accepting art criticism.
People today often emphasize the importance of an art education by focusing on the idea that art makes a person more creative and perceptive. There is no doubt this is true, but there is so much more involved in a comprehensive art program. A complete art program allows every student to increase positive attitudes towards self, others, and the environment through creative experiences. Problem solving and creative learning encourage students to connect visual knowledge to other subjects and to respond with innovation, understanding, flexibility and imagination. I believe that an understanding of our world, an acceptance of different cultures, an exploration and mixture of visual culture and art history, and a recognition that differences are to be welcomed not rejected are essential in creating a balanced art program.
I think that an education in the arts stimulates the imagination, develops self-esteem and encourages openness towards the opinions of others. Art offers opportunities to students that are not available through other subjects alone. Art is connected to every subject in a school’s curriculum and, by interconnecting a multidisciplinary art program, students not only benefit from the structure of each class, but also from their diversity. I believe a successful art program cannot stand alone. Integration between every subject is needed to provide students with a rich, varied, all-encompassing art education. A complete art education does not simply happen in a classroom. Involvement between students, administration, and community, mixed with art history and visual culture, make an art program whole. Added to that list would be a motivating, open-minded, accepting art educator assisting students in their personal art explorations.
My goal is to teach students that there is no exact way to create art, that sometimes there are obstacles they may need to overcome, and that coping with ambiguity, expressing opinions and at times defending judgments are all essential elements required by artists. This is where I find my role in art education. Challenged by past criticism or negative reactions to their artwork, some students may have issues with fear, lack of self-confidence, or a feeling of insecurity when it comes to making art. I want to instill in my students that art is personal, individual, and may create different reactions than expected, but to understand that any reaction is better than no reaction. Artists pursue art making as an investigation, exploration, and discovery of meaning (Walker, 2001, p.115). Discussions revolving around an artwork are important; whether they are positive or negative, in favor or unaccepting, harsh or flattering, all are essential. What would art be if not discussed, analyzed, and challenged? My beliefs about teaching and learning begin with my desire to promote acceptance through art.
I believe young students are open to criticism but as they mature they become more sensitive to peer reactions, they are conscious of individualism and often fear being labeled as different from the crowd. I want my students to explore their uniqueness, accept being an individual and celebrate it instead of hiding within the crowd. Art is an excellent way to express emotions, state views on life, and yet remain an individual. My education at Penn State has enabled me to better understand how students develop and learn which in turn will help me to reach my goal of creating an accepting and safe art room. The mission of the College of Education is to prepare teachers, scholars, and researchers as exemplary leaders, and to advance the profession of education through the science and art of teaching and learning, clinical processes, technology, research, and policy development (http://www.ed.psu.edu/general/vision.asp).
I see art education as a continuous learning experience: through research, student achievement, and community involvement. By blending trends in visual culture, promoting diversity acceptance, weaving historical and contemporary artists into lesson plans, and recognizing individual abilities I believe I can have a balanced and successful art curriculum. Penn State has given me the knowledge and confidence, now it is up to me to show my students, administration, and community that by studying art we can discover how people communicate, not only with words but through images.
Armstrong, J. (2000). Move closer: An intimate philosophy of art. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Feldman, E. (1996). Philosophy of art education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Graeme, C. F. (1996). Celebrating pluralism: art, education, and cultural diversity. Santa Monica, CA: Getty Center for Education in the Arts.
Hurwitz, A. (2001). Children and their art: Methods for the elementary school. Fort Worth: Harcourt College Publishers.
Walker, S. R. (2001). Teaching meaning in artmaking. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications, Inc