Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Personal Education Philosophy

      I believe primarily in the perennialist philosophy of education when instructing the young in a formal institutional environment. As a teacher, I believe that it is my obligation to pass down information collected by those who are most successful within a given area of expertise. This presumption does not necessarily mean that all of our best knowledge comes from western European studies. Every educational philosophy should also be examined and considered in the overall application of learning within a person's life span. Essentialism, romanticism and progressivism all contribute dynamic methods for imparting knowledge, but it is classical thought and subject matter knowledge that create both a stable, well informed individual and a sophisticated society at large.
         My goal as an art educator is to consider and implement two important points that are all about time and timing. How much time do I have to teach the very best information about art to children and what is the proper time in which to do it? In the field of art, there is more knowledge to be had than there is time given to teach it. Therefore, I must make critical decisions about what is best for children to learn within the few years that I have to teach them. Although much of this material is already suggested by the state GLEs, I must also consider the very large body of excellent material that is not. What will my students need to know about art that will be personally relevant to each of their individual needs, culture and future goals? Art is more than a career for a few talented individuals. Art is a language that when used properly may open up doors to creative processing in other fields of study. Art is a therapy to those who have difficulty communicating emotional issues. Art may also speak to our understanding of the universe, our own culture's wisdom and even how we view God. There is so much to learn through art as well as about art.
      Timing is critical in teaching art successfully, because so much of what children learn about art is dependent upon the development of their brain, their environment, and receptiveness to experiencing new ideas. Age appropriate lesson plans have long been a key factor in the appropriate transmission of artistic knowledge. Watching students carefully and identifying with their creative ideas all play into the introduction of particular lessons as well. Some students advance slowly and others quickly through projects. I will need to provide an ample variety of lessons for those who are advanced and ample time for those who can‘t finish within a brief allotment of time. These things I have learned by observation and discussion with other experienced art teachers.
      I will also develop curriculum based upon theories like Gardner's intelligences and Bloom's Taxonomy. These gentlemen have greatly influenced how I will interact with students.  Gardner believed all children to process information through multiple capacities such as: linguistics, visual and spatial relationships, mathematical, and musical. Because I believe this to be true as well, I will develop art lesson plans that combine multiple interests with art. This curriculum will touch on areas of "intelligence," i.e. "interests," that many children have already. For example, Gardner recently identified another member of the multiple intelligence family-- the naturalist intelligence. The naturalist is a person who has an aptitude for understanding and collecting knowledge of the natural world. This kind of child would be an example of a student predisposed to artistic studies in botany. Feeding a child's natural instinctive inclinations with artistic lesson plans will help him to develop an appetite for art. There are ample opportunities in the arts to reinforce curriculum that taps into all kinds of multiple intelligences.
     Bloom's Taxonomy is a classic theory of developing learning strategies based upon the incremental development of higher-order-thinking. This type of theory lends itself perfectly to the teaching of art. As children progresses through their work, I will advance their learning through different manipulations of the materials and also gradually teach them abstract ways of interpreting their artistic subject.
      The student's role in the classroom is to participate with enthusiasm! However, I would consider it my primary responsibility to create an artistic environment that will spark their creative interests. What I expect from children immediately is that they will be children. They may be full of giggles, or other times act moody. Sometimes they are deep into their thoughts, and yes, sometimes they can even be very disruptive. I would not expect them to be any other way and that is why it is so important for my students and myself to maintain a good amount of order and a good amount of humor during art class.

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