Good Lessons From A Bad Teacher
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The only class I ever failed in college was Intro to Art Education. If you put this book down and stop reading right now I will totally understand. If you keep reading, you will learn that over the years, I’ve frequently clashed and often collided and have had plenty of failures in the world of art education.
My college, The School of Visual Arts (SVA) is located on 23rd Street on the island of Manhattan. As the course title suggests, Intro to Art Education was designed to provide those considering a possible career as an art educator a look at the process. I can’t truly remember why I enrolled in the class. I can only assume I had fond memories of being in my high school art class and saw this as an avenue back. I soon would learn there would be no nostalgia.
I don’t recall ever meeting in a classroom on SVA’s facilities. I do remember meeting at a local elementary school. There, the course instructor taught a lesson to the elementary school children while her college students (including me) watched her teach. After the lesson, when the elementary students had left the room, we would discuss, evaluate, and critique the events of the day.
Eventually, I believe the students would be preparing our own lessons and taking turns teaching the class. I use the word “believe” because I never found out. I stopped going to class. I stopped going because I didn’t understand the “edu-speak” the teacher used. Words like curriculum and standards. I stopped going because none of this was creative or experimental or fun. I stopped going because I came to the realization that art education was about objectives and summaries and not about art at all. At least, that’s what I thought.
I went to student services to withdraw from the class. I was informed that it was too late. The deadline to drop a class without it being on my permanent record had passed. If I didn’t return to class, I would fail.
Fail? What did I care? I didn’t need to worry about failing this class because I would never, ever become an art teacher.
I wanted a project that would out do any project we had done before or probably would do again. I came up with the best idea in the world. A giant replica of the Mona Lisa created out of balloons. Click Here to see The Monalloon!
I was standing in the courtyard watching the students snap photos of their friends inserted in the art. I leaned over and asked the creative writing teacher what she thought, expecting obvious praise. “I hate it,” she said. View the Interactive Chalk Murals!
The project created a class full of students weary of gluing rows of candy, angry moms tired of purchasing Skittles, and a hungry mob that circled the trailer waiting for any chance that the door might open. View the Skittle Portraits!
March comes in like a lion and after having been cooped up all winter in a musky auditorium, I thought it would be fun to take the Art History class outside and let them feel the wind in their hair. View the Kites Project!