Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ramblings on being an Art Teacher

I wanted to post my thoughts prior to my first Prac (which I have just completed) and then afterwards to see how my thoughts on being an Art Teacher or being a teacher of Art was any different. I have been pondering this for many years in the lead up to my becoming an Art Teacher (of high school students). This distinct difference is key to understanding how the two roles, though very similar in nature are also quiet different.

A number of years ago I had posted a thread on an art forum I am a member of, asking if an art teacher needed to be good or a least competent in a majority of art forms to teach. Those that replied, some speaking from an art teacher background or experience answered my query with what I assumed to be the answer. Yes, you have to be proficient in a variety of art mediums and techniques to teach art. Also you need some greater ability then your students. 

Bearing this in mind then, I pondered about the differences between being a Tafe or Uni Art teacher, to a high school art teacher, to a workshop art teacher. As mentioned, all these roles are vastly different yet still cater to the single purpose of teaching their pupils about art and creating/making art. 

Having been through the institutions (TAFE and Uni) and now being on the other side as an Art teacher (Prac) I have come to realise the difference as a teacher of adolescents or school students. A high school art teacher is just that; someone who teaches art. It is mostly about mimicry by default. That is the way students at this level can learn; getting the foundation skills and knowledge down pat in junior working into more conceptual and wider thinking in senior. So how does this differ to a teacher of art?

I believe a teacher of art is moreso a guide to teaching and learning about art and how to make and create art. I feel Tafe and Uni, and workshop teachers cater more to this style. Neither way is necessarily wrong or negative, it is just different in approach. That is not to say you can't change your approach to teaching high school art. It is about knowing your students and making judgement calls about the best way they can learn.

I think as a high school art teacher, alot of personal artistic sacrifices must be made in your own creative being as the students depend on your ideas and guidance so deeply. I think as an Art teacher, it is still very important to keep your own passion and ideas flowing, and still maintain your own craft. Though the reality of this happening is silm. Just like any job being so draining, with all your ideas being zapped out of you by the end of the day, and the workload, I imagine there would be not much time nor well to keep your own practice doing. Though I hope I still keep my finger in the pot so to speak, as I feel it is just as important to your job as it is to yourself and your well being. Though it may be your job, being an artist is part of who someone is. And I know for me, I feel more fulfilled when I have done some art. They still needs to be something that gives!


  1. As both a high school art teacher and a teacher of adult workshops for many years I understand your train of thought But the role of an artist is always developing and progressing High school students can actually enrich your own practice and you theirs I used to work right alongside my students in prac lessons I saw many go on to further art study at a higher level and I completed my masters in fine art while teaching good luck with your career i think you will make a wonderful teacher


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