There is a saying that says, “To teach is to inspire.” With Art education, there is no question that this statement could be the foundation for my own ideas behind teaching. In all students there is a quality of creativity that has in some cases been lost by the “rules” that govern certain subject area content. When a young child draws a picture, they do so with no inhibitions about how it will look, what is represented, their choices of color or compositional arrangement. They just draw. As students grow through grade levels they are so used to being told how they are to do things and what these things should be or become when they are finished, that by the time students get to upper grade level art classes so much of that early childhood freedom has been tucked away behind these “rules” that it is our job as art educators to have them rediscover it.
Now, this rediscovery does come with some artistic foundations, or “rules” which artists should develop as they journey artistically. Teaching and experiencing the Elements and Principles of art is the best way for students to begin to uncover these past ideas of freedom of expression and openness to artistic creativity. Another key way for students to understand art and its importance historically is through relativity.
For students to truly experience art, I feel it is extremely important for students to be able to “relate” to the subject matter, the art history lesson, the media being taught and the concept of the unit by giving them some type of way to personalize these concepts and ideas to their own lives. Its not just about their experience, but how that experience can be something they can take with them and use at another point in their lives, whether it is in another class or in the future.
It is also important as a teacher to relate to the student individually. To make them comfortable enough to find those things in their lives that they can be happy to talk about and share with you as a teacher and most importantly as a person. Understanding where they are at any age and relate to them on a personal level. Engage them in discussions about the why’s and the what do you think, instead of them hoping you will tell them how and what. Establish a comfortable environment for creativity and expression while continuing to stress the importance of learning and technical development through experiencing the knowledge you bring as an educator.
Without inspiration all great artists would have just been “people who could draw good.” It is the spark from their childhood that needs to be encouraged and then artistic fundamentals developed so they can form their own opinions about art, themselves and their place in a classroom and possibly the world.