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View Poll Results: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most art mediums to teach art?
Yes. Art Teachers should be good at all/most art mediums to teach art. 14 11.20%
Yes and No. Art teachers need to know a range of different mediums and be adequate/satifactory 71 56.80%
No. Art Teachers don't need to be good at all mediums but specialise in one or two 31 24.80%
Other. Please explain in thread... 9 7.20%
Voters: 125. You may not vote on this poll

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  #31   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-22-2010, 11:28 PM
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comd comd is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I actually don't think most art teachers need any wide range experience in different media at all. I would much rather have a teacher who is a master draughtsman than someone who can knows a lot of techniques in pastel, oil paints, acrylics, gouache, watercolor, charcoal, etc. If he's only experienced with graphite drawing and only uses a no. 2 pencil, I don't think that's a big loss.

The only exception I'd make is classes which are intended to demonstrate how to use specific media, and I don't think the teaching of mediums should be bundled in so much with more general classes that are intended to teach perspective, anatomy, etc. even though they often are.

I personally think it's a big mistake to jump into various media early on without establishing fundamental drawing skills, which can be taught with just any old pencil and paper. In high school we jumped into painting very early and I didn't really understand painting even though we learned all about the mediums. It wasn't until I got better at drawing that I understood how to paint. Watercolor, for instance, is a very tricky medium and I would attribute at least 80% of my understanding of how to use it effectively came from drawing practice, not from the teacher showing me how to draw thin lines with a liner brush.

I can understand why teaching different mediums is often bundled in, especially for things like high school and junior high school classes as a way to kind of get students to get excited and experiment, but I really think there's a lot of students that get a bit too excited and start trying to do oil painting prematurely before they can draw with a pencil (I was one of those). It doesn't really matter if you learn how to paint fat over lean if you can't draw very well, and drawing should be exciting enough as it is if it's taught effectively and the student really starts to improve.

I also think there tends to be a premature emphasis on color theory over value and then we end up with students asking silly questions like how to mix the right colors for a skin tone like there's some kind of general skin tone palette.

Last edited by comd : 04-22-2010 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 04-23-2010, 03:49 AM
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creativechrissy creativechrissy is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Yes drawing skills I feel is very important but does not restrict creativity in other mediums. Even just a simple sketch can help a sculptor, or for a painter the composition. I think if you are not wanting to achieve photorealism then accuracy is not important, however a great skill to have. (Does it sound like I am trying to justify my weakness?...yes but we can't be good at everything). One teacher said to me just that, don't try to be a photographer, get a professional to photograph your work, get a web designer to do your website, etc etc (Now this is all well and good if you are established and have the money). But you get the point.

Wow...a year on is posted this thread and I feel more confident in my skill and ability. Not because I have been able to practice drawing, which I haven't, but because I have been painting more and getting better. For me I need to learn the technique of watercolour and how to use the medium to be able to teach it, not how to draw.

As a school teacher the focus is on dabbling in a bit of everything. But as a n adult workshop teacher, then specialising in your area of strength is what is expected of your students.

I have concluded that to be satisfactory or adequate in drawing will see you through problem solving and demonstrating to students. However if I had to teach a portraiture/anatomy class, then I would be in trouble Just something to work on in the future when I have time. (Time, whats time???)
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:39 PM
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Postmoderschisms Postmoderschisms is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

it would be a start if they were any good at all...
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:34 PM
Steve Orin Steve Orin is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Ron, I like your mind, ya ol' geezer.
I generally stay away from these esoteric threads cuz I'm an old doer... I grew up in the "gitter-done" world. Folks like me tend to be somewhat hard for many to handle.
But! That being said, I'll jump in here cuz I'm waiting for paint to dry... Bored.
As with anything, the answer is not as easy as an overall recipe... It depends upon the nature of the problem. Takes analysis to suit the situation. If you want to teach lil kiddies you can get away with less knowledge. The higher you get the more you need to teach. Teaching a class of semi-experienced adults when you know little/nothing about the mediums & their demands & you'll likely make a fool out of yourself. I ditched my college level education for that reason... My teacher did nothing but give assignments while she lounged around, eating Twinkies & bragging about her hubby, child & cat. I asked for examples of DOING IT! SHOW ME! Nothing. After decades of creating stuff for Disney & such, across the planet, and working with teams of other artist I realize how helpfull it is to get my fingers dirty. To do it, in front of their eyes, so they can build upon less than esoteric how-tos.
So yeh, get in there & experiment with anything you may need to teach. At least get the tech down.
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Old 04-26-2011, 01:32 PM
tortolitas tortolitas is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

WHat teacheres need to be good at is SEEING and MANIPULATING what they see in their heads...

They need to see HOW the student is doing the thing, and how THE STUDENT is relating the goal to their process. Art is different in that there are as many correct ways to do a thing as there are artists.
You can't know them all...
TRUE WEALTH? Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~ Carl Sandburg
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Old 06-05-2011, 07:57 PM
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shadowdancer shadowdancer is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

teaching "art" is comprehensive, therefore the teacher, to be effective, should also have a highly qualified comprehensive background education. Teaching drawing, the teacher should be more than just competent. a teacher should be able to assess, facilitate and forward each student's work at whatever level. Today's schools are being required to hire/maintain highly qualified instructors in every discipline. Are all teachers at the same level? no...there are teachers who have BFA's, others who have BS'...IF this were a perfect world all teachers would be exemplary in their discipline...too many schools have used nepotism, and hire family/friends/connected people to hold positions...too many secondary schools do not hold art as an equally important discipline but view it as an elective babysitter for students who do not do well in academic classes. A teacher, should effectively be able to take any student and increase their abilities and understanding. Foundations have to be learned, but all students do not learn/retain understanding at the same time/same way. There should be ah ha moments for all students somewhere in the experience...that is the moment of understanding/lesson learned.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:33 AM
nalysale nalysale is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

hi all
I am not a teacher but any art need good effort and as said art is life.Those wanting to become art teachers need not only the knowledge of the art itself but also knowledge of different techniques like painting, drawing and sculpting, as well as the various teaching methods to suit for students of different ages and skill levels.A degree in Fine Arts can hone an aspiring teacher to develop a variety of artistic skills and techniques. There a lot of universities and colleges that offer a degree in fine arts, as well as Art education programs that bridge a bachelor's degree intro teacher training.
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:50 AM
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KatV KatV is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Good points here, and I'll add that schools at least in the US are cutting art program budgets severely or entirely, and more of us artists are having to step in and pick up where the budget left off. Better we step in than parents with no art knowledge trying to cover the bases, so even if you do not have kids, but would not mind volunteering a few hours a week, please check your local schools as they need true artists stepping up.....but ironically I am at least seeing that it is increasing the conversation surrounding art in the schools, perhaps increasing the creative programs and "festivals" being considered, and hopefully good can come of what seemed awful. My suggestions are being met with "all ears" whereas before I'd guess that they'd have said "we have enough." And the inherently talented students are really standing out, and that is so much fun, to see that and recognize that and wonder how we might have looked at that age......and I see it as an opportunity to bring freshness back to my art, being inspired by youthful art.

Just my two cents......
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:15 AM
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creativechrissy creativechrissy is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

While I want to be an art teacher in the near future, I have been pondering if an art teacher needs to be good at all mediums or most mediums to be a good teacher?

I think back to my art teacher's remembering one in particular who loved clay and we did alot of clay...as a consequence, I don't like clay too much.

I am a painter -acrylics- and I think I would be more bias towards this medium.

I don't have very good drawing skills so how am I going to be able to teach kids adequate drawing?

I would be able to dabble in most mediums to an intro level. I know with high school students you don't have to be awesomely great, like the 'masters' but my standard is high for myself, and I would not want a student to outdo me better at something and put me to shame!

Are you a teacher and have you encountered an experience like this?

Can you speak from the point of view of a student (whether school student or tertiary mature age student),

what are your thoughts on your expectations of an art teacher's ability to teach art?

I thought I would give you an update since I first posted my concerns in early 2009. It is now late 2011 and alot has happened on my journey.

So the end of 2011 marks me completing my Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) and I am now a qualified teacher (waiting for my first appointment next year in 2012). Though I have not started 'teaching' I have gained the relevent experience and observations from my pracs to conclude this, and in answer to my own question, no, a teacher does not have to be good at all mediums however a range of skills and strengths in areas is essential. An art teacher (referring to high school) does need a good foundation of knowledge in art theory and mediums/techniques. Basic knowledge and skills in other of your 'weaker' areas is still necessary for those times when you need to do a unit on at medium. But having said that, teachers are constantly learning, renewing skills and updating new skills. My aim is to attend professional development (PD) in those areas I feel are not my strengths.

I think back to my art teacher's remembering one in particular who loved clay and we did alot of clay...as a consequence, I don't like clay too much.
Unfortunately, clay seems to be a dominant medium, however, since my high school days was a long time ago now, I actually dont mind working with clay so much anymore -its just messy.

I am a painter -acrylics- and I think I would be more bias towards this medium.
Working in acrylics is definately a dominant medium in schools as compared to oils, oils are too much of a OH&S issue, expensive and are annoying to clean up. Schools dont use them because of the fumes and clean up with turps. It is not banned, however most schools dont go for oils anymore.

I don't have very good drawing skills so how am I going to be able to teach kids adequate drawing?
The drawing lessons I did take, and the intermittent help in other units showed me the drawing skills I have are adequate. Even my own standard of drawing I think is [email protected], to compare to my students "you are so good at drawing" are their comments. So now I am not too concerned. Still an area I want to improve on.

In 2010 I painted my first solo exhibition, and painting a cohesive body of work, and the quantity I painted in 2010 definately improved my skills.

what are your thoughts on your expectations of an art teacher's ability to teach art?
So again, to answer my own question, my expectations of an art teacher's ability to teach art is to have a sufficient to good ability of skills, knowledge and techniques across a variety of mediums to enable a diverse and rich art education. Teachers need to teach HOW and guide students to problem solve -not do without showing.
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:55 AM
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Azure Wings Azure Wings is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I realize this post is coming late, but drawing skills are foundational. You need to be able to demonstrate basic drawing skills. (And if your drawing skills are weak, and you are painting realistic subjects, the lack of skill will affect your painting.)

The solution is to draw, draw, draw all the time (when you're not teaching - maybe even when you are, and the students are working). Carry a small sketchbook with you everywhere, and draw everything. Your sandwich at lunch - the art room at school - your hand - your shoe - people in the coffee shop.... Show it to your students. You can share with them that you are working on improving your drawing skills, and that this is how to do it - that practice - lots and lots of practice - is what makes you better. Your example will teach them a lot!

As far as all media go, approaching the ones you aren't expert in with an attitude of experimentation is a good lesson in creative discovery for your students.

The art of teaching high school students is a whole 'nother thing above and beyond that - but both are essential if you want to really have something to give your students.


Last edited by Azure Wings : 11-21-2011 at 04:04 AM.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:40 PM
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Gardavkra Gardavkra is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

When I read your post the first thing that struck me was exactly what the previous poster to mine focused on. Drawing. I agree that you must be able to draw and it is the foundation on which you will build your skills. There's no other way around it.
You can't put art in a box.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:06 PM
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Avena Cash Avena Cash is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I think strong drawing is the most important foundation and essential for an art teacher above the "playtime" younger grades. You should be good with the skills of rendering accurately, and all the techniques and tricks. You should also be able to help look at drawings critically to problem-solve. Also design is critical. You should be able to see and use design language.

I will never ever forget my 7th grade teacher who taught an essential component of 2 point perspective incorrectly. We got into an argument in class. I didn't know better than to question her openly at the time. Her completely wrong drawing example has been etched into my mind and still vivid 25 years later. When it's technical, wrong is 100% wrong and there is no reason that years and years of students should have been hearing that from her. I doubt you would like to be that teacher in someone's memories.

I would advise building a strength in one 3-D medium and basic painting abilities in addition to strong drawing. Almost every art classroom will touch on modeling (clay) and crafts like weaving. You should also be accustomed to learning new things from basic instructions and planning the steps of a process, so your only skill there is really being competent at figuring things out and willing to dive in. Drawing will always be of the highest importance between grades 4-12 in my opinion.

An early primary grades teacher may mostly focus on crafts and very little on skill-building.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:57 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I was lucky to have had an art teacher (in High school) who was a fabulous artist, sold his paintings on average for seven to ten thousand dollars, and is now considered the "father" of a "school" in my home town-- which has become a huge art mecca (let us say "Santa Fe"). While a student I and a few others were singled out as very talented, and we got to meet and observe several important artists who are in Art History books and national gallery collections.

I took classes with this artist for 3 years. I only got to the point where I could have been "singled out as very talented" because of the grade school and Jr. High School teachers who taught me prior to High School.

To your question I would answer that anything a teacher does makes a difference in a child's life, and I believe that you should be both excellent in several mediums as well as highly committed to teaching children (teens, etc.) What a teacher does is important, and as a teacher, you have to get your act together first--

I feel that an art teacher should be "excellent" at the lessons usually given in the "how to paint" or "How to draw" books and ought to be good pushing pastels, pencils, clay and all else. This is basic stuff, and not asking the world of a person to know the basics of many arts, and be "excellent" at a few more.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:50 AM
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ChristophS ChristophS is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I was fortunate to have studied life drawing with Robert Cenedella at the Art Students League, he had studied with George Grosz.

I had/have no desire to copy the style of Robert Cenedella or George Grosz, and that wasn't the point of the class. Robert Cenedella has a command of life drawing, and in teaching he is trying to simply give the student the tools necessary to draw well. Its much like a class on writing, one should learn sentence structure and grammar before moving on to creative writing.

So when it comes to art education one should first acquire the basic ability to speak, then concentrate on what to say and how to say creatively.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:50 AM
girlwonderful girlwonderful is offline
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Smile Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I've thought about this a lot over the course of my teaching career. I've been teaching art at the elementary level since 2001. I believe it takes special skills and dedication to be a teacher and being an effective teacher is most important. I've had college art professors who were great artists but horrible teachers. Although they were masters in their medium I can't imagine them teaching young children or even high school students. One of my painting professors actually said that his job was to "bully us" into painting his way. In no education course that I've ever taken; or school district that I've worked for was "bullying" an acceptable teaching strategy. We all know many adults who's abilities have been frozen at the elementary level by bad experiences with uncaring teachers.

I believe that all art teachers should have at least one or two mediums they've concentrated in but yet have taken coursework that gives experience in all the media that students should know-printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, etc., plus art history, aesthetics, art criticism. The state where I teach (Missouri) has elementary grade-level expectations for all major art mediums so art teachers need to be able to teach the basics in these areas. I also believe competent drawing skills are crucial and the basis for success in all other mediums.

I feel it's different at the high school level where art classes are media-based. Although I've taken ceramics a few times I've never mastered the wheel. I would never feel myself competent to teach ceramics at the high school level and I would hope school districts know enough about art education to make sure their high school art teachers are highly qualified within their field. High school art teachers are the gateway for many future artists to go onto college and have successful careers. Of course, not every student will become a working artist but positive art experiences in high school will last a lifetime.

If I, as an elementary art teacher, can give young children a great start in the basics plus confidence in themselves, then feel like I've accomplished my goals and they can move on to middle school and high school ready for the next level.
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