“and if you don’t know, now you know”

“Other modes of inquiry simply do not and cannot construct knowledge in such expansive ways as those integral to the study of visual arts.” 

No matter what your profession is in the arts industry, I have learned that you will always, always, ALWAYS, have to advocate for the arts. Some professions automatically gain more respect than others just because the general public deems them more important. From what I’ve experienced, Arts Education falls at the bottom of the totem pole. Through my four years in art school, many people did realize that value and importance of Art Education. Coming from an extremely supportive family and studying in a strong arts community, not to mention the top public art school in the country, I cannot complain about the quality of my education. I truly believe that I couldn’t have received a better education and and felt more than prepared to pursue a career in Art Education in any venue…

With that said, I have had my fair share of run-ins with people who are truly ignorant about art in general, but ESPECIALLY what it means to be a professional Art Educator. Part of it is just that people just don’t understand, and that’s not necessarily their fault. The other part is that people who SHOULD understand, like artists themselves, don’t care to. I can’t tell you how many people look down their noses at artists and don’t view Art Education as a legitimate profession. Many people assumed that I wanted to spend my life finger painting, glueing together popsicle sticks, and teaching kids to paint pretty pictures. If that’s really  all there is to visual art education, I doubt that my resume would look the way that it does. I doubt that I would have needed to do allllll this to become a licensed Art Educator:

1) Apply to VCU 

2 Apply to Art Foundation Program with portfolio.

3) Apply to Art Education Department with portfolio.

4) “Praxis I, or Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), consists of three exams: reading, writing, and mathematics. In most colleges and universities, a passing score must be earned for admission to teacher education. In most states, a passing score must be earned before the teacher education graduate can apply for his or her teaching license or certificate.”

5) Apply to Teacher Preparation with transcripts and appropriate test scores

6) Elementary Practicum requirement

7) Secondary Practicum requirement

8) “The Praxis II assessments cover many different subject areas. Each education major requires a different combination of Praxis II exams. In some states, students must pass these exams before being accepted into the student teaching component of the program. Many states use the Praxis II tests as a way to determine highly qualified status under the No Child Left Behind Act.”

9) Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment aka VCLA

10) Apply for Clinical Internship, aka student teaching

11) Complete a semester of student teaching: 8 weeks in elementary and 8 weeks in secondary

12) Apply for graduation

13) Apply for teaching license:

“Upon completion of the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in art education and with the recommendation of the Department of Art Education and School of Education, students are eligible to apply for initial teacher licensure from the Virginia Department of Education.”

Not to mention the studio art requirements, ceramics, sculpture, photography etc. the general education requirements, and other  art education theory, technology, and instructional procedures courses. Now granted, requirements vary by state, and programs vary by school.. but this is the route that I took. I dare anyone to tell me that Art Education is not a legitimate profession. I dare anyone to ask me if my goal is to teach Arts and Crafts at summer camp. Exhibit A:

















Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

… Nothing against camp crafts, but…why would I spend four years in school and thousands of dollars on learning to teach camp crafts..making gimp and friendship bracelets does not require a college degree, much less a teaching license

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that people just don’t get it and it makes me mad.

If you care to read, here’s a passage from “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching Art in High School”, a textbook from one of my Art Ed classes that I’ve been referencing a lot lately. I typed it up.. from the book, that’s how good it is 🙂

I think it sums up what I wish I could say to people about why I’ve dedicated my life to this:

“Art is an Essential Life Skill.

On a daily basis, art educators face the interminable challenges of why the study of art is important and what professional opportunities are available in art. Historically many parents have discouraged their children from pursuing what they may sterotypically call a “starving artist” career because they assume such an avocation to be steeped in pain and poverty. Other than graphic design, some people believe that art careers are limited. Besides the many art-rlated professional opportunities including design, illustration, and education, the fact of the matter ist hat art, beyond being a livelihood, is an essential life skill. LIke math, sciene, reading and wriring, the ways of thinking, looking, seeing, and making in herent to the visual arts are an integral part of life and living. Like pupils in math class, art students learn to solve problems. However, the exploration of contemporary and historical works of art as well as the use and investigation of media and techniques promotes inventive approaches to problem solving rather than obedient, blind adherence to perscreoptive formulae. Art students learn to experiment much like scientists, but are encouraged by their teachers and assignments to take risks and stretch the limitations through critical interpretation of theirs and other works of art and the visual culture that surrounds them each day. In other words, art students learn to read and write visually, verbally, and textually.

The career opportunities available for art students, like those of math, science, and English students, may include such discipline-specific jobs as fine artist, designer, and teacher. But even more importantly, art is am essential life skill the permeates and enhances virtually each and every present or future occupation or profession. The interpretation and creation of visual artifacts – images, performances, installations, or other forms of visual culture – require the construction of symbolic representations, associations, relationships, analyses, reconstructions, explanations, arguments, and understandings of our world. Other modes of inquiry simply do not and cannot construct knowledge in such expansive ways as those integral to the study of visual arts.” 


3 responses to ““and if you don’t know, now you know”

  1. Love this!!! You broke it down so people will understand what the process is to become an Art Educator. You have done an outstanding job of EDUCATING those who needed it. Props to you!!!!! Gimp, fingerpaint and camp crafts? I think not.

  2. The credentials are certainly extensive but if you’re not just helping kids finger paint, what do you do exactly? work as a docent? Teach kids about art history and theory/methods/concepts?

    Not trying to be offensive, just honestly curious.

    – a burgeoning art appreciator

    • No offense taken!
      There are several different Art Education methods out there for both classroom and museum based learning. My formal training is in Disciplined Based Art Education (DBAE)- which includes Art Production, Art Criticism, Art History, and Aesthetics as the main components of a comprehensive teaching unit. So not only do students engage in the process of art making, they also learn applicable art historical knowledge relevant to their project. Additionally, they engage in the process of critique, learning to view their work and that of their peers through a critical lens. Even students as young as kindergarten need to learn to give feedback productively to others and make observations about their work. This is a way that students improve their communication and intrapersonal skills. There’s nothing wrong with “finger painting” per se…but if they are learning just a skill, or the “Art Production” part without anything else, I see it is as a missed opportunity.

      Now, DBAE is a method more specific to classroom art education. Lately I have been teaching more in a museum setting, helping docents develop their abilities to give well-rounded tours of exhibitions. Museum education programs often follow a similar model to DBAE, but often without the Art Production.

      Does this answer your question? Let me know!

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