We must remember that the goal of education is not mastery of knowledge, but the mastery of self through knowledge – a different thing altogether. – David Orr
The Importance of Art Education
Art provides an opportunity for students to think freely, explore personal curiosities, and discover the richness and depth our world has to offer. Even when art making is limited by physical parameters, the boundaries of creativity are always limitless. Art encourages students to experiment and take risks, fostering creative thinking and problem solving skills. Art is not just a pursuit for those with a particular talent, but an essential component of education that everyone can take part in and benefit from. It is my hope that each student will leave my classroom with an open mind, able to see opportunities rather than obstacles and to succeed at any endeavor they choose to pursue.
Big Ideas & Interdisciplinary Connections
When I begin a lesson, I consider what lasting knowledge and skills students will gain that will benefit them well beyond their formative years. These underlying “big ideas” become the thread that stitches each learning experience to the next, forming a strong network of understandings. I often determine big ideas based on human commonalities or enduring truths, which stand the test of time and transcend cultural differences.
By using “big ideas,” as the foundation of a lesson, connections between disciplines naturally unfold. A lesson about people’s relationship to place, for example, brings about questions related to social science, history and cultural traditions. Cultivating and dissecting these connections opens doors to other time periods, people, and places. By examining how and why others create, students begin to develop a broad social and cultural awareness. Similarly, through creating their own art, students explore and experiment with personal beliefs and values.
The Optimal Ambiguity
I believe an exemplary lesson must have what David Perkins calls “the optimal ambiguity.” Students not only need developmentally appropriate structure and scaffolding, but also enough freedom to construct their own ideas and questions associated with lesson content. This is a delicate balance that requires in-depth knowledge of each students’ strengths and weaknesses. Since each class will possess a range of ability levels and learning styles, differentiating instruction is essential in helping each individual achieve their full potential. By providing diverse opportunities for students to learn content, produce art, and demonstrate understanding, I promote constructivist learning, as well as universal growth.