The world is filled with things to respond to.
Things that make us angry, things that pique our interests, things we wish to share, things that are beautiful, and things that repulse us. All our responses to these things deserve an outlet: a place, object, performance or recording that others can use to inform their own responses. These responses ultimately strengthen our connections to humanity, as others gain insight about our experiences through our artistic output. I genuinely believe that art is the best way to give young people the gift of responding to the world in powerful ways. Art education gives young people the gift of processing their senses of identity, ultimately giving them a way to participate in global conversations about humanity’s shared experiences.
Because I identify with progressivism as well as the social reconstructionists of the world, pedagogically, I intend to use authentic assessments in the classroom to model real-life ways that daily life incorporates art, expression, and communication. Teaching kids that art is not just about expressing one's self but also working in conjunction with others towards common goals is crucial to their successes in life. With the ISBE state standard, as well as Tolerance.org’s social justice standards, being as broad in their approaches to Creating, Presenting, Responding, and Connecting, there are so many opportunities to instill the skills into all of our students to become self-motivated learners and artists for the rest of their lives.
My curriculum is developed out of both intuitions about the way students are feeling about concepts, themes, and the world at large as well as utilizing as many mediums as possible in order to expand their knowledge of what’s available to them. I want my students to consider all the different artistic options in the art world — from podcaster to animation cel developer to muralist to installation artist, dancer, graphic designer, and more — and find what makes them excited. My classroom will be a classroom filled with options. In doing this, I hope to set an example and instill habits about finding ways to express our ideas and having as many tools in our toolboxes to work with to do so. I am especially dedicated to the idea that a school is a mini-community within the larger community and both should set examples of how the students wish their neighborhoods looked as well as the impetus of community beautification and action projects. I want to set my students up to be vibrant members of their communities and to help others amplify those voices as they have amplified their own.
I know that I can give the young people I work with the ability to share their ideas and passions with the world in ways that excite them. Not all of the students who pass through my classroom will become great artists, but that is not the point of art. To believe so would be to feed into the capitalistic landscape of the current art world. The point of art education to give students the confidence and ability to take their responses to the world and creatively amplify them to the best of their abilities. I hope to instill empathy, expressiveness, problem-solving attitudes, a sense of community, storytelling, and most importantly, purpose, to their lives.
My aspirations and objectives as a teacher are simply to make a lasting impact on my student’s sense of self. From their personal sense of identity to their self-worth, what matters is that they know they are precious and important. I want to encourage curiosity, humor and self-awareness. I want to enamor them with the idea that communication with others is a way to heal society. I hope my students walk away from our time together with a strong sense of ability, not just in the form of hands-on skills but in their wherewithal to say “yes” to any obstacle or challenge.