Living in a democratic republic society means that our individual identities and perspectives are vital to the greater picture and ultimately lead to conversations and decisions that affect our country as a whole. Our collaborative voices and how we employ them are what define our societal values. Education is built to encourage everyone to succeed. Education is vital in ensuring that young adults are prepared to be active participants, role models and leaders in our society. It is incredibly important to nurture all learners whether or not they are a “genius” in your class or find the content to be the most exciting thing in the world. It is important to validate their struggles, commend their effort, and say “how can I help you succeed?” In terms of being an art educator, I have seen through experience that a good art lesson is one that sparks interest in your students and draws passion from within them to create something meaningful and exciting. This means each project has the capability of being personal and pertinent to the student. There is no concrete visual end point of what the project will look like; it is all about exploration and process--not only in terms of the materials but also in terms of the concept in relation to the materials, the artist and the audience. During the creative process the artist is able to build a heightened sense of self; creating art allows the maker to sit with their life experiences to deconstruct and analyze their meaning/purpose on a level beyond the experience itself. There is something to say about slowing down and allowing yourself to just ‘think’. Through this reflection process artists present the opportunity to their own democracy for conversation about our individual experiences and a greater sense of empathy for one another.
Each lesson is to be differentiated for all types of learners whether they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Every day provides options to get each student involved; every voice is vital when it comes to the comfort and growth of a class. The students will learn more if they feel comfortable conversing openly with one another. The art room becomes a safe space where students may experiment, fail, contemplate, ask questions and interact with the world around them. There is a certain level of flexibility that comes with art making as well. The creative process relies on just that: process. Just as life is about the process of going through each day and understanding our experiences in terms of ourselves and the world around us in order to inform our identity and indubitably our decisions, art making is a parallel situation. Students are encouraged to treat each assignment as an exploration of the material and the concept, in relation to the self, the community, the world, etc. “...what is important here is not ultimately the uniqueness of the artistic product, but rather the deeply felt connection between self, process, and product”(Gude 2009). In making art, the connection between the self and the self in relation to the community and world is strengthened.
Finally, all students are equipped with the proper tools to succeed in their vision. Educators must form a relationship with each student and the collaborative class to define what learning looks like for each child and the collective group; this way students are capable of accomplishing tasks both singularly and collaboratively. One will know a lesson is successful when you see each student approaching challenges with confidence; they are comfortable in the environment, supported by their instructor/peers, and confident in their ability to approach new methods and ideas knowing that failure is a viable and welcome option. Humans learn and grow through the process of trial and error, creative methodology and imagination. Educators are preparing students for life after high school by teaching them to be resourceful and unwilling to give up or check out. When I imagine a “good” art teacher, I envision someone who understands and exhibits empathy, values effort and creative problem solving, finds excitement in the content they are teaching, and cares deeply about their students.