In the context of art education, the role of the teacher is to create an environment that stimulates creativity. Good teachers offer important insight, but great teachers inspire students to independently practice deep thinking and discovery. My role as an art educator is to teach how and why tools are used, provide context and resources, and engage students in critical dialogue. I strive to create an originative environment for the students I teach. This produces reciprocal learning – I offer practiced skill, and each student offers a unique blend of experiences and perspective.
This requires my teaching approach to reflect good judgement and adaptability. As I sharpen my communication skills, I can offer richer and richer learning experiences. In the latter part of my time at Ohio University, I served as a teaching assistant for the same professor in two different classes. We had a neurodivergent student in our drawing class, and it was difficult to connect with her. We greeted her daily and engaged her in conversation. She was not a studio art major, and we were both surprised when she decided to take a pottery survey class (which was offered virtually) with us the following semester. It was a joy to create an environment that put her at ease, and she ended up learning a lot about pottery.
I came of age at a time when I did not feel welcome or respected in art making spaces. I learned how to navigate those spaces through the support of mentors who believed in my skills and voice, and I now feel at home among kilns and heavy machinery. Because of my experiences, I am committed to serving others who may not feel welcome or capable. I am intentional in the ways I discuss gender and identity with students, to avoid creating perceived differences in capability. My purpose is to make new skill sets accessible and encourage students to learn them.
I must also consider the importance and limitations of my own perspective. There are gaps in the canon of contemporary Western art, and those who exist within this canon have a responsibility to look closely, ask questions, and hold space for identities and practices that are missing. Contemporary art exists beyond the fold of the Western art exhibition – though it is not possible to understand everything, it is important to look outward and be critical of the educational systems that form us.
My teaching philosophy centers around these core principles:
- Cultivate independent thought
- Teach students how and why tools and materials are used
- Be perceptive and adaptable to individual learning styles
- Treat students as capable and valuable people
- Be critical of the information and ideas I perpetuate