I have been reflecting a lot lately on why I have chosen the path of becoming an art teacher. The spring semester started last week for me, and I thought I would share this story and its enormity of how I feel it has affected us in our society. I began an Art Education course with a professor asking the class “What was the inspiring moment that made you decide to become a teacher?” Well, I can say for sure that it didn’t happen in a classroom, but rather a night out in a bar.
A friend and I were out for good drinks and good food when a group of young gentlemen started talking to us. We were talking about art, as we were both potters, when these young men starting chatting with us. Somewhere along the conversation one asked what we do, and we responded of course saying we were artists, in particular, potters. Immediately it was asked if we had ever reenacted the scene from the movie “Ghost” ( if I had a dollar every time that happened…). Their laughter prevailed to then again ask us what we really did for work. I went home that night irritated at their gall, and angry at their jokes and insults.
Now, it took a while for this experience to sink in, and honestly, I still think of this incident and simmer. I get upset that those men did not take the Arts seriously, that they don’t appreciate it for its possibilities. More so I feel that this is the general view in America, that the Arts are not valued and have no place of importance. People stereotype artists as people who don’t want to hold a job, that they must be the classical “starving artist”.
This brings me back to those young men I met that fateful night. I realized later that their views were not just in poor taste, but rather that it is a perfect example of our school system’s poor education in art! If they had been taught to appreciate art more at the primary level they would have more respect for its creators.
Art education isn’t about pumping out parent pleasing artwork in the classroom. It is about changing children’s perspectives and opening their minds to the world of art. In a world focused on fast thrills and better upgrades people don’t slow down and appreciate beauty. I feel that we can change this beginning in an art room that focuses on experiences not who is “good” or “bad” at making art.
I want to change people’s perspectives. I want to be that teacher that blows your mind with artwork. I want to teach children appreciation for the arts so that there is more draw for local artists and their wares. I want the arts to flourish, and that means teaching the love for it. Imagine changing the local economy by just changing our views about art.