Art Educators are in a unique position in that their job is to directly impact the lives of multitudes of individuals - not only through the creation of marvelous artwork, but through a construction of knowledge that goes beyond methods and materials. The art classroom is a wonderful space in which students may think creatively, shape and develop their personal identities, experience and understand empathy, and express and expand their view of humanity. Simultaneously, art education can encompass and expand upon elements of other academic disciplines; cultivating critical thinkers, decision makers, and problem solvers. All of this while still creating skillful works of art.
The fundamental core to a successful arts education lies in the creation of open-ended, individualized lesson plans that center around Big Ideas, which directly relate to the lives of students. Teaching through this method allows for the exploration of new ideas, while building upon prior knowledge that students bring to the classroom. Integrating contemporary art and artists, discussing encounters with visual culture, and investigating interdisciplinary themes through Big Ideas provide for a push beyond a media-driven curricula. Teaching through these concepts calls for students to not only learn about themselves, but also about the world around them.
These approaches all go hand in hand with multicultural practice. The society in which students of today are both creating and entering is global- comprised of many cultures, all of which are individually important and expansive. The art classroom is an ideal place for all students to see themselves represented in a curriculum where the contributions of all people are valued. The role of the art teacher is to guide students to connect to their backgrounds and histories, explore their personal interests and desires, and allow for questions to be raised and answered. These curricula allow for students to gain skills necessary in order to participate in, and shape, contemporary conversations.
For the art teacher, educational practice has expanded to reflect all of the complexities art and art making carry. The art classroom is a fascinating and exhilarating space in which students can experience learning in multiple formats, while also discovering their unique artistic voices.