Art is a form of expression that allows students of all ages to voice their opinions and question the world around them. Our role as educators is to guide the students along their own self-discovery through their art making practice. The true purpose of art education is to give students the skills and abilities to express themselves in ways other than writing or speaking. A proper education should provide a self-awareness of the art they make and it’s connection to life around them.
The classroom should be an experimental environment, allowing the students to learn through experience rather than strict lessons. For the educators, the focus should be on teaching the students about the materials they work with and what the process of making art consists of. Much like John Dewey’s approach to providing an aesthetic education, the emphasis should be on the expression that comes out of the relationships between material, process, and idea (Freedman, 2003, p. 39). The teacher should be the resource for the students to turn to in order to continue their practice. Art making is dependent of free thought, not fulfilling a quota. Giving the students the ability to work in an environment with all the materials, tools, and resources they need is how students can understand and create art by doing (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 58).
The students learn best in an environment open for their interpretation. The teachers should provide the initial instruction about the processes until the students are comfortable enough to continue on amongst themselves. This type of learning would produce artwork that the artist has control over. Tending to the strengths and weaknesses of each student, seeing each student as an individual mind, and allowing them to express themselves through the materials and methods their methods of work. Throughout the students’ art making process, the teachers should remain as fellow artists, to guide them and to push them towards their goals (Stankiewicz, 2001, p. 29). Working with all the materials and tools needed allows their creativity to grow without a limit.
The emphasis on independent work, collaborative environments, and an understanding of material process provides the future generation or artists with the knowledge to make strong and meaningful art. As educators we must understand each student as an individual. We must understand that knowledge is formed in learning environments both in and outside of the classroom (Freedman, 2003, p. 83). Students bring unique experiences to the table that add to the rich environment of the classroom and instead of assuming their capabilities, educators should provide the opportunity for them to work freely to find their artistic voice. Through education, students will gain the skills and abilities to make art in a variety of forms so that they can express themselves in a variety of ways.
Freedman, K. J. (2003). Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics, and the social
life of art. New York: Teachers College Press.
Stankiewicz, M. A. (2001). Roots of art education practice. Worcester, MA: Davis