Critique My Teaching Philosophy!!!! Please!!!

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    Critique My Teaching Philosophy!!!! Please!!!

    Ok, so I know this is long, and I edited it down back in class, to where my prof liked it, but I've added more pedagogical elements and honestly, I don't give a damn if it's too long. Expecting an entire teaching philosophy to be under 2 pages is like expecting a resume to be 1 page. If someone wants to see my views but doesn't really care to read all my views that's insulting. I can understand editing an argument that's redundant, but I don't want to cut them out. That being said, if you want to rip any of the content apart, be my guest, and I'm not really happy with how it ends - too abrupt. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated, and politely recieved - I promise! So here it is:

    (Note this is for highschool level art classes)

    Before explaining my philosophy on art education, I feel I should discuss what I believe art is and why art matters, for those who study it and the world in general. As an artist, I see the importance of art every day, but I know that not everyone sees the world as I do. I define art as any means of communication between the maker and viewer, which has been thoughtfully and carefully designed and executed. Art can be a painting, a book, a movie, a song, etc. Every work of art has something to say, whether it is a historical photo, a novel, or a simple shard of pottery. Now, you might look at a piece of pottery, see a bit of decoration, and think nothing of it. But, as Jared Diamond notes in his book Guns, Germs, & Steel, with a trained eye, you would know where it was made, when, which culture made it, when they arrived in that location, where they came from, and something of their religious beliefs, icons, society, wealth, and level of technology. Every work of art holds a wealth of information about the person who made it, and the culture and time period the person came from. More importantly, for many past cultures, their artwork constitutes the only clue as to how they lived and what they believed.

    I believe that art education has the same goal as other educational fields, which is primarily to develop skills that students can use throughout their lives, in college, in professions, and on their own. For me, the main question of art education is what skills should be taught? What skills are most beneficial for young artists today? Unlike some other subjects, art making encompasses not one skill or body of knowledge, but rather an endless list of related skills that build off each other. These skills include drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, computer graphics, animation, film & video, architecture, and many others. Although these abilities may not seem related, any artist will tell you that mastering one will influence all your work in the others. This is because working in one medium, say printmaking, will lead an artist to different kinds of lines than they would make by drawing with charcoal, and might result in this artist trying new kinds of line with charcoal, or pencil, or later in Photoshop, or jewelry making.

    I believe the most appropriate skills to teach beginning students are drawing from observation, sculpting from observation, studying human anatomy, and mastering the intricacies of color theory, all the while incorporating art history, criticism, art theory, aesthetics, reading, writing, vocabulary, and research. I consider these four skills most important because they will enhance the work produced in all other arts. Anatomy alone allows for art involving people, portraits, illustrations, etc. Even if a student decides he/she wants to go on to make art unrelated to the figure, the familiarity he will gain with the materials, and the precision she will develop to perceive shape, size, proportion, and color will allow the artist to pursue any and all future projects. Ultimately, all the different fields of art are all founded on the same aesthetic principles of composition, emphasis, balance, rhythm, pattern, contrast, juxtaposition, color, etc, and by having students work in a variety of mediums, they will gain a greater sense of what these aesthetic principles mean. Also, as Phillip Dunn explains in his book Creating Curriculum in Art, from the NAEA Point of View series, these four artistic abilities also develop certain cognitive skills such as visual communication, visual literacy, speech and debate, hands-on learning, longitudinal thinking, problem solving, and making qualitative evaluations through critique and self-assessment.

    I believe that any art course should first focus on developing students’ skills. In any beginning art class, there will be students of varying development and ability. Most will need to go through a series of technical exercises before they will be ready to try real projects. It is crucial with each skill set to break down the difficult concepts into short, manageable, learning activities for students to complete – and that students can complete. Giving them a weighty project on the first day that they feel they cannot do, will only bog down the class and erode students’ confidence, and I have seen this happen in other teachers’ classrooms. It is also important for students to know the difference between a work of art and an exercise. A work of art is a means of self-expression. So long as the work truly communicates what the artist intends, it cannot be wrong. It becomes infallible. It also cannot be marked over, as that would infringe the voice of the artist. When student work becomes art, it is therefore difficult to criticize and correct, and for students to open their minds to what they might learn from their teacher.

    A technical exercise, on the other hand, is not about self-expression, but rather is a test to see whether a student can do a certain task, such as a realistic still life drawing, with objects chosen by a teacher solely for their educational value. In a technical exercise, it is not so important what students make as what they learn from what they make. These studies are like scales in music. A musician would never perform a scale before an audience, but must practice them every day to improve the real pieces. Given enough exercises, students in any art subject will feel confident, and be knowledgeable enough to begin real art projects of their choosing. When, on the other hand, an art teacher expects students to complete excellent drawings in the first assignment, and will not let students move on until they are excellent, this is like expecting a beginning musician to pick up a violin and play a Brahms concerto on the first try. It is an unreal expectation that creates a gap between student and teacher, and leads some students to doubt if the subject is right for them.

    Art is ultimately a means of communication, and some thought must be put into what students are saying through their art. Beginning students should be introduced to art-related topics and concepts to debate, such as, what is art? Is art something you make for others or yourself? How do you know when a work of art is finished? Why make art, anyway – what makes it important? If a student goes on to become a professional artist, these questions will come up again and again, and any artist must be able to respond to them intelligently, and articulately. It is not enough to know how to make art, one must be able to talk about it. I believe any art class should cover these types of questions – but always allowing students to come up with their own answers. I have seen classes where teachers try to force their views on students to make the work meaningful, and almost always to a negative result. The work no longer belongs to the students, who constantly check and change their work to what their teacher wants. What these teachers need to learn is that their students do not have to make one large body of connected work, all centering on a theme chosen by the teacher. Who cares if it makes a more cohesive exhibit? The primary focus of art education is not to show exhibits, but to teach skills students can use in future work. All a teacher needs to do is know each individual student, and figure out what they are really interested in doing, that they would benefit by doing.

    All art courses must allow for students to say something of their choice, throughout their educational experience. A crucial role of the art teacher is to motivate their students, finding subjects and issues that inspire them, when their own inspiration is lacking. For me it is not important that students make any particular kind of art, but rather that their senses are refined enough to truly create what they want. A student might have a fascination with motorcycles, and by allowing that student to make art about motorcycles, he will work harder than he ever has in his life, make incredible work, and have a portfolio piece for college. Motorcycles might not be intellectual, or linked directly to politics, ethics, etc, but I hesitate to tell any student that their passion is unacceptable in my classroom. My ultimate goal as a teacher is that students will want to take what they have learned in my classes and go on to make great art and continue to study the arts throughout their lives.

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    Too large, I'm not doing your homework until you pay me. I suspect most people will feel the same.

    Ok, so I know this is long, and I edited it down back in class, to where my prof liked it, but I've added more pedagogical elements and honestly, I don't give a damn if it's too long.
    See above. Really.

    Last edited by Flake; November 9th, 2006 at 07:52 PM.
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    It's not homework, I dropped the class. this is more about my professional development. I'm just looking for some feedback from whoever's interested in the subject. If you don't want to - don't.

    Last edited by ArtEdGradStudent; November 9th, 2006 at 08:10 PM.
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    Tried to read it, couldn't get beyond a few lines into the second paragraph. It's really wordy. You could easily edit this down at least by half and not loose any content.
    Expecting an entire teaching philosophy to be under 2 pages is like expecting a resume to be 1 page.
    Both of these are entirely reasonable expectations.


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    Well, most employers don't give a damn about the length of the resume. One reason it's so wordy is back in the class, my prof suggested that it read too much like a book, and I needed to keep saying things like, I think & I feel. I think that it's obvious I feel this way, it's my damn teaching philosophy. I could edit it down. Maybe I should. Do you all think I should take out that part? or is it important?

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    Well, I feel a bit identified, since I tend to overstate and repeat the same thing too much, and stuff sentences with unecessary redundancies. Its a tough habit to break, just don't get defensive about it (like saying "its my damn teaching philosophy"). You asked for critiques, just be more open about it, thats all.

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    Argh, yes, so far as editing down a concept to make it succint, that's fine. I'm just saying, when I was in that course, I had over 4 pages of ideas that my prof said no one wanted to hear about. It was basically like telling me to shut up and just feed people two small pages of what they want to hear. This may be necessary to getting a teaching job, but man does it suck.

    Is there anyone who wants to look at the actual content and critique it? Is any of it confusing?

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    A couple of suggestions from a high school art teacher. First let me say I agree with much of your philosophy, however, it is very long and needs to be trimmed down. Most interviewers will skim through, only a few ever read it in its entirety, but you do want them to. Pick your points and make them strong and concise. Be aware that high school art educations vary and not every kid in art cares about being in art or even wants to be there.
    Consider the curriculum standards of the state you want to teach and formulate a simple but effective response. Cut out alot of the specifics about why technical and anatomy are important. Don't tell them you know how to draw, show them by bringing a portfolio of your work. Stick with discussing curriculum, why you're passionate about teaching art, and how art can help all your students to grow. Be sure that you can intelligently respond to any and everything in the philosophy in case you're asked to expand on any particulars. One last thing it's a lot of work but don't be afraid to tweak it based on the schools you're applying to.

    I hope this helps you on your way. Best of Luck!

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    Never mind..

    Last edited by Flake; November 10th, 2006 at 10:06 AM.
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    Woodbert, thanks for the critique. One thing that worries me is you said, "Pick your points and make them strong and concise".

    Are there any points that seem weak to you? Which ones and why?

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    Hehe, sorry - why did an aspiring teacher drop a class?

    Also, I think .. you may be overwhelming the majority of Highschool students. I think perhaps your first priority should be to get them interested and involved with art. Teach pre-existing art-geeks the intricate details. Sorry if that seems like dumbing it down for the masses, but that's exactly what it is . No one will do something they don't enjoy or see benefits from.

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    I think that you might want to reconcider the way you are using language. I reccommend a book (small) called The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
    it talks about writing style at length . one major point being. never use a big word when a small word will do. It doesn't make you sound smarter or more thoughtful , just pretentious.
    By and large I agree with your ideas. but your way of expressing them could be cleaner. and Like stated above I used to proof read dissertations...but I got paid for it.

    keep thinking...but perhaps you should switch to making art for a while and let this lie fallow and simmer
    (mixed metaphor , I know)
    chaos

    To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

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    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...ight=chaos%27s
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    "IdiotApathy" I agree with what you're saying, but I thought I addressed that when I said you break down difficult skills like drawing into smaller, manageable lessons. I've done this in afterschool programs and it worked.

    Chaosrocks, thanks for the crit, I actually bought that book, but haven't had time to read it. The thing is, I can't just let this simmer. I'm applying for jobs now. My wife's pregnant, and so she won't be able to support my artist ass much longer. I'm looking for any jobs while I finish up my masters.

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    Mm, well - to clarify what I was saying - even now I consider 'study', even though liberating at many moments to wear thin at times. If I wasn't motivated I wouldn't study like I do. You have to do things for 'morale' every now and then - things that make you happy and remind you why it is you've chosen art. I would expect this to be significantly magnified by not only those 'uninterested' or 'less interested' in art - let alone highschool students with other things on their minds .

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    So if I put in an example of how I'd motivate students, that'd make it stronger? How about this. I have a collection of landscape video clips I made while travelling the country. I can ask any class "Who wants to go to Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon?" and then pop in a tape, then have them draw it. Do you think I could mention that as a way to motivate kids? (I know it'd help if I had made tapes of more exotic places - but I never had a camcorder in Europe). I also have a collection of McFarlane dragons and athletes, that kids usually love.

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    First thing to do is get rid of redundancies, there are a lot of them. It's not hard to do, just look for all the sentences that say the same thing:

    "The primary focus of art education is not to show exhibits, but to teach skills students can use in future work."

    "I believe that any art course should first focus on developing students’ skills."

    Another issue is that "communication" and "expression" aren't defined, they're used interchangably. Communication works by using symbols to represent ideas and things, expression is a natural occurance like emotions, uncontrollable symptoms like facial expressions and such. Communication can be taught, expression happens by itself.
    I was always bothered by the "self-expression" defintion of art in highschool. Everything we do has a degree of self expression in it, so saying art is "self expression" doesn't define it, but instead makes everything art. Communication is a better definition. You mentioned "trained eye" in the first paragraph, this implies communication not expression, since heiroglyphs and other ancient arts needed to be decoded.

    Paragraph 4 should come before 3.

    I think it's possible to get this down to 1 or 2 paragraphs.

    Another editing example:
    "Before explaining my philosophy on art education, I should first discuss what I believe art is and why it matters. I define art as any means of communication which has been thoughtfully and carefully designed and executed."

    Basically just getting rid of redundancies, and obvious stuff. "between the maker and viewer", who else would it be between?

    Sketchbook

    "Beliefs are rules for action"
    "Knowledge is proven in action."
    "It's use is it's meaning."
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    I wasn't really talking about your document, I was just talking in general - philosophy wise.

    Motivation is absolutely important, but I don't know if that's going to get you the 'job'. You're in a much better position to determine that, this was just my input.

    I can't say I'd be too motivated by your video idea. I apoligize that I don't have much to offer in return, I was only warning against strict technical persuits no matter what the 'distant' reward may be. I think these students really need to be able to produce something they can be proud of - something tangible - "Refrigerator worthy".

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    ArtEdGradStudent – I think your philosophy is fabulous, and that you will make a great teacher. However, your writing is at a grad student level, and it will absolutely intimidate highschoolers. This will sound absurd, but try rewriting your objectives in three sentences. The point is not to dumb down, but to make brandy from your wine.

    If you can manage three sentences of condensed elegance, then expanding on that with ten more sentences will feel like a hundred.

    BTW, you may be interested in the “Concept Art 101” link in my sig for your students. . . and also perhaps icouldbe.org.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    i actually read the whole thing I sorta understood what he was trying to say. the "philosophy" makes sense, I guess. I don't see anything I disagree with it. but like the others said... it's too wordy. You should be able to chop that down to 1/2 of the original length.

    Just extract the main ideas. But this is your homework so you do it!

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    Thank you everyone. Great advice. I'll chop it down more. One thing to note is that students won't read this, only interviewers. But still, I see what you're all saying.

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    ArtEdGradStudent, I don't think you have any weak points as I think you just need to make your points quicker. All of your paragraphs can be trimmed down while keeping the same info. The quicker you make your points with your philosophy the more likely you are to have an impact on potential employers.
    Also, I don't think it's necessary to put lesson ideas into your philosophy, it's really supposed to be why you want to teach, how you will teach, and what kind of effect you can have on the students.

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    another Idea..... have you ever read scientific papers or jurnal articles. Ever notice that they have "Abstracts" that are basically a 1 paragraph condended version of the article?

    write the abstract.

    then you can use the long version or the short version as seems appropriate

    chaos

    To see the world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.

    Sketch book

    http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...ight=chaos%27s
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    Cool thanks people. I think I just got a teaching job today! Part time, but still the more of these I can get the better. And the facility looks great!

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    Ding lol gratz! :-)

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    Very cool news and good luck. Don't forget to network as this can be beneficial to getting other teaching positions along the way.

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    I am glad you including things like anatomy and color theory in your philosophy... I hope you make a great teacher, there is certainly a shortage of them, in my area at least. I've always wondered what San Fran, LA, or NYC Art teachers are like- Most of mine either don't care about drawing from life, don't think it helps, don't care about the kids improving, and/or just know nothing at all. My painting teacher last year didn't even "believe" in Color theory. She thought it was a bunch of hooey. She taught us absolutley nothing in Painting class, nothing in Sculpture class. She only got the job cause she was in with the principal =(

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    My art teacher told us allw e suck and had no reason to be in class. How's that for instilling confidence eh?

    It's long! I like what you said but absolutely none of what you said is practical and relates to teaching kids in any but theory. and Kids don't even do theory! They do stuff! Along with the philos. I'd like to see what you would actually do.

    [][][][] DRAW EVERYDAY [][][][]>
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    For drawing I have a number of lil exercises to help kids understand the different skills needed, and then practice. Most of my lessons are borrowed either from great professor's I've had, or from books, especially Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain.

    *gets out lesson plans*

    Drawing:
    1. 50 kinds of line. Have students create a line based on interpreting various descriptive adjectives: dark, light, exciting, boring, aggressive, submissive, etc. It's a good way to teach vocab to students while showing them a pencil can make more than one kind of line.

    2.Sumi-E brush painting, emphasizing line quality.

    3. Painting with found objects from nature, such as sticks, pine cones, and leaves, to have students concentrate on mark making.

    4. Drawing a Ceramic still life, with lamps to create strong light and shadow.

    5. Anatomy from memory. Students draw a copy of a comic, superhero character, and then draw it again from memory. For younger students, I actually have them come up with their own comic character, then I have them hand their sketch to the person on the right, and they all draw each other's characters in their own style. The characters go around the room till each student gets the original again.

    6. Comic expressions with Calvin & Hobbes. I've picked about 20 different expressions from the series, and I have students draw portraits of each other based on them.

    7. Interior perspective, I have students draw the corner of a room, and then another, then I have them draw several other sketches, following the lines of the ceiling of both previous sketches until they meet in the middle.

    8. for faces, I have students grab mirrors and just draw certain features such as eyes, noses, and mouths, so that students don't need to worry about an entire face, having to resemble anyone.

    9. I already mentioned the McFarlane dragons and athletes which are great for studying anatomy - kids love em, and you can rotate them like a real model, but without worrying about nudity, etc.

    10. I like my video landscapes because kids who are stuck in school get to see there's a fantastic world out there for them to aspire to go , see, and conquer.

    11. An important simple exercise for students is a simple value study, from light to dark, it's surprising how many beginners can't do it.

    Painting:

    1. Value studies. Start with a simple one fro light to dark. I give students white paint and any of the primary colors. I'm demanding with this one, telling students to keep working until the value transitions evenly throughout, and is well blended. Then I have them paint something using the same colors. Either from a photo or a still life object.

    2. The other day I had students pain postcard size landscapes from Nat Geo landscape photos. So they were dealing with scale along with color. They had the primaries and white. All acrylic. I'd like to have students try stamp size paintings to really focus on fine detail with small brushes, as beginners struggle with this.

    3. I put together still lifes with certain dominant colors, such as all white, all green, all brown, etc, to force careful color mixing from students. The place where I work never got the exact colors I asked for, so we make due with just 3 primaries - cad red, lemon yellow, and ultramarine. No cerulean, magenta, or cad yellow. Ah well.

    4. Next class I'm going to go over some watercolor technique, probably just recounting a workshop I took on it a few weeks ago - using palette knives and cut-up, fake credit cards, along with brushes and paper towels. We'll probably use the Nat Geo photos again. Or one of my movies. Who knows.

    5. Although many art teacher's I've worked with frown on this, I think they're foolish in not letting students try and copy a master work. It's the greatest way to study the work, and learn from it. And it's ridiculous that some art teachers actually worry about copyright laws. I mean, do you really think your students are gonna create convincing forgeries of rembrandt's work, using acrylic on paper?

    6. If I get enough time left, I'd like to go over some underpainting concepts to my class. Maybe I can begin the subject with watercolor next week.

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  30. #29
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    Wow, wait, what grade level is this for? I'm a senior in high school and none of our art teachers tried even 1/4 of this stuff. Because most art teachers tell people to read out of art books (lame art history books) do worksheets and draw/paint a project they don't want to do once in a while.

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  31. #30
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    You see, that's why I want to be an art teacher. Back when I was in high school we didn't even have an art program.

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