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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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Old 01-25-2009, 11:10 PM
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creativechrissy creativechrissy is offline
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Question 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?
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Old 01-26-2009, 12:05 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

It depends at what age bracket you want to teach. From primary to say year 8, the basics is all you really need. After that it requires a bit more knowledge and at least an understanding of the different materials and mediums.

senior years (11 and 12), you really need to understand and at least be able to demonstrate a satisfactory level of work.

Above this level, you would specialise and become knowledgeable in that speciality.

(my 2c worth anyway)
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:38 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I do not agree with you on one point, Chrissy; that a student 'outdoing' me would put me to shame (?). On the contrary, it would make me very proud ...both for the student's 'success' and that I was able to contribute to that student's self development. Isn't that what teaching is all about? You challenge 'em; then you coach while they show you they can accomplish wonderful things.
That's no cause for shame, that makes my heart strings sing
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Last edited by Nevadaron : 01-26-2009 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:53 AM
joqua joqua is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

ANY teacher - not just an art teacher - needs to first be a motivator, with the ability to inspire students to pursue with diligence whatever the subject of the class happens to be.

It goes without saying that a teacher must have authoritative knowledge of the subject being taught in order to accomplish the lofty ideals set forth above.

And as has already been stated, how knowledgeable the teacher needs to be depends on what level of student development is being taught. By the time a student enters university level art courses there is an expectation that the instructor will have advanced knowledge of the course being taught.

Other than those generalizations, there are all shades of gray in the teaching profession when it comes to skills. There is an old cliche that goes, "Those who are failures as artists teach." There is some truth to that statement. But one need not be a good artist in order to be a fine motivator (teacher).

And lucky is the teacher who has at least one genius in the class. And smart is the teacher who induces that genius to share some of their inheritance with fellow students.

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Old 01-27-2009, 08:24 PM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Yes for me I am looking at teaching High School art to students, however I would like to see myself in the future to teacher adults.

Currently I am striving to paint as much as I can to get better, as I want to be as experienced as I can technically with painting and be able to show students detail to abstraction.

For me wanting to teach is not a matter of the
Quote:
old cliche that goes, "Those who are failures as artists teach."
it is more about me wanting to teach and share my knowledge and help students improve. Over the years I have had many people, even a few of my academic teachers say that I would make a good teacher. Alot of my artist peers who I have been in classes with would come to me to help explain the process etc and say "you are so good at explaining this and I understand now".

I feel I have the ability to teach high school level, but I felt that I needed some more art practice experience before I do that. I also think that many teachers would learn alot on the job with demonstrating techniques and processes. I have seen high school level (as I was a teacher's aide in the art department) and that is how I know I want to teach art. It just felt right, especially when helping the kids.

It is just about being self-conscience and questioning "am I good enough"?
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:04 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Chrissy, you are right on with the notion that teaching is an art in itself, being able to communicate an idea or skill so others can learn to do it also is no easy task and some artist aren't able to do this communications skill. So there are those of us who can be artist and teach successfully. And as you say, honing the skills and techniques of a variety of media is essential for the artist/teachers to know inorder to communicate them successfully to their students. Sometimes I feel I have experience in a media that I am confident it knowing and at other times I know enough to teach the skills needed for the media and hope the students can take the info on to more creative results on their own with encouragement from me the teacher.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:15 PM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by creativechrissy
It is just about being self-conscience and questioning "am I good enough"?

While it would be nice if every art teacher were also a masterful artist, I believe it's more important to KNOW your subject well.

Knowing one's subject well implies being able to give accurate information and advice informed both by experience and study of the subject. If you don't know the answer, don't give one until you've done your own research. If you're unable to give CONSTRUCTIVE critiques, refrain from critiquing at all.

While school systems do have different requirements, there is a general approach in the USA. ElHi teachers are usually required to have satisfied course work toward earning a teacher's certificate. For the field of art, that usually means following an "Art Ed" curriculum resulting in a BA in Art Ed.

Post secondary education (Community college, college, university) usually requires an MFA degree in one of the studio arts. Only recently have PhD degrees begun to be offered in the studio arts.

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Old 01-30-2009, 10:16 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

I disagree that most teachers are failed artists. It may be true of some teachers, and I'll admit I've seen and heard about some art teachers that I think should have gone into something else. However many teachers I know are also talented artists in their own right. Many have shows and sell to galleries. I've wanted to teach high school art since I was in high school art because my art teacher changed my life, and I wanted that experience for others. I also didn't want to the pressure of holding up the business end of being a professional artist-- I'm not good with selling my own work. I have a talent for dealing with teenagers, and for motivating them.

I would say, in answer to the OP's question, that I am proficient or advanced in all of the media that a high school art program covers. My Art Ed program included equal measures of Art classes and Art Education/Education classes (there's a difference between art ed and regular ed-- regular ed is all about theory, art ed is about specifics in the art room). I teach drawing, painting with acrylic and watercolor, printmaking, mixed media, charcoal, pastel, and usually some type of sculpture. We don't have the equipment for ceramics, though that was my focus in college.

You'll develop drawing skills in your college courses, and I happen to think drawing is the most important thing to be proficient with before you teach. Your students will expect you to be able to teach them how to draw, to demo techniques like breaking objects into shapes, shading, drawing perspective etc. They'll want you to be able to tell them what's not right about their drawing and how to fix it, and they'll want you to show them how to approach drawing difficult objects.

With paint I show them color mixing, we make a color wheel using only red, blue, and yellow, and I demo a few basic techniques. After that I turn them loose to experiment. I might need to show them more individually to help them solve specific problems, but drawing is the skill I demonstrate over and over, nearly every day.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:47 AM
joqua joqua is offline
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Quote:
Originally Posted by puglady
I disagree that most teachers are failed artists.

I think you're referring to something I wrote, that implied that people who are failures as artists become teachers. It's an old cliche that's been around awhile and applied in various ways and I have no idea in what context it was first stated:

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

I was trying to use it to point out that many find teaching the more desirable alternative to struggling to survive as an artist. It's a small minority who can claim to earn their living entirely from their artistic production. And my thoughts are borne out by the following statement:
Quote:
Originally Posted by puglady
I also didn't want to the pressure of holding up the business end of being a professional artist-- I'm not good with selling my own work.

Speaking from experience:

I would much rather take an art class from someone who is first and foremost a teacher who loves teaching - who is coincidentally an artist.

I spent six years earning two degrees (BFA, MFA) in the arts at two different schools, and saw too many professors who were artists who taught because they needed the steady income - not because they set out to be teachers or loved teaching.

I hope that clarifies it.


Last edited by joqua : 01-30-2009 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 01-30-2009, 04:19 PM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Oh I wasn't offended Just stating that I disagree with the cliche, in most cases, not saying that I disagreed with you. You were clear the first time.

I don't know whether I'm more artist or more teacher, but I do love my job and my students, and students pick up on that. They know which teachers (art or otherwise) really want to be there and which ones are just there to get a paycheck.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:10 PM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Quote:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."
I'm not blaming you, because I know you didn't make it up, but I absolutely hate that saying for two reasons.

The first is that I heard it a lot growing up; my family used it to convince me not to be a teacher. I supposedly 'had so much talent (not specifically artistic talent) and ability', why "settle" for being a teacher? I followed their advice and spent 15 unhappy years at more prestigious types of work: doing research at an Ivy League university, working on the staff of a governor's cabinet member. I'm much happier now, working for about 1/10 the salary and 1/100 the recognition as a teacher. So my first reason is personal.

The second reason is that it's so obviously untrue. Have you ever tried to teach someone else how to do something that you, yourself, don't know how to do very well? If you can't cook, can you teach somone else to make a souffle? If you don't know how a computer works, could you teach someone else to build one? Of course not, it's preposterous! In Girl Scouts they used say, "You cannot do a thing well until you can teach it to someone else." That makes more sense to me. Teachers are those who can, do, and can help others to do.

(It also goes against history. The great Rennaissance painters all started in the workshop of another master, and took students of their own into their studios. A "master" without students/apprentices is an oxymoron. Titian was the student of Bellini, who in turn learned from Brunelleschi. Does that mean Bellini and Brunelleschi were unsuccessful as artists? In our era, I think more teachers would get recognition for their own work if not for the demands of the modern teaching profession -- e.g., having 100 or 200 students instead of 4 or 5, and the lack of apprentices to do the tedious jobs for you.)

There are, of course, some people who think they can teach when they can't, but that's not what the saying implies. It should really be,
Quote:
"Anyone who can do, thinks he can teach."
But, to answer the poll question, a teacher should be competent in any medium he or she plans to teach. Below the college/university level where students begin to specialize, that means you need to have a basic idea of how to handle each medium, but not that you need to be equally good in all of them. If you are only good at one medium, you should teach in a setting where students have a choice about who they want to learn from.
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:01 PM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Henry Ford said,
Quote:
"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."

I don't believe you need to have every medium mastered, but you need to demonstrate genuine enthusiasm, and in some cases an excitement to learn along with the students.

I have some independent students right now. I purchased a blender, cotton tiles...several books on paper making, paper casting...some screens to make dekkles.

I know very little about paper casting...but thought it would be fun. I offered the supplies to these students if they were interested with the confession that I myself do not claim to know much of anything. However, that I would be willing to experiment and work thru the books together learning along with them.

I want them to know and understand that to be successful in life we need to know how to learn something on our own. Life learners...which leads to independence.

Now...thing is....art ed itself has gone thru a number of philosophical changes over the past 30-50 years...from unit based teaching, DBAE (discipline based art ed), Outcome based...and Performance based.

We've come from the teacher being an artist teaching...to seeing the artist/teacher as a threat to broader unbiased exposition of all the arts and culture, to realizing once again that such is like hiring a math teacher that can't balance his/her own checkbook.

We now have for the most part the ideals of DBAE with art history, art criticism, art making and aesthetics, but with better understanding that a knowledgable engaged artististically creative teacher can bring much to the classroom and need not be threatening to broad learning.

Most important...our enthusiasm for learning and expressing creatively as teachers needs to be contagious!

as for this comment-
Quote:
I would not want a student to outdo me better at something and put me to shame!

In the A&E video on Leonardo Da Vinci, you will hear him quoted as having said that he is a poor student that does not excel beyond his master!

However, I do not believe in lowering standards or creating false achievements so that students are hoodwinked into believing they have achieved such.

I am a painter of some reputation...and will get students that will say, "yeah, but you're an artist!" as if somehow that then gives them a cause to discount something I'm emphasizing for them.

I will come back with something like, "thank you for pointing that out, and for affirming even one more reason WHY you should give greater weight to what I'm saying! For if I could not for the life of me create a good and decent thing, you'd have even more reason to question me, no?"

If you are not that good as an artist ...you'll experience some reason kids will express not doing their very best. If you are a very good artist...again, you'll experience some contrived reason that they are not able to do their best. Students are like mini attorneys that have other motives or agendas and will argue their case.

I think it helps motivate to be good at some particular medium because you are a crusader in the classroom for what good art brings to the lives of those living in our culture, our day and age. More importantly however, perhaps just that you are actively engaged in pursuing art making with excitement.

What does it say about our message that art is important if kids know the only thing we do with our lives following our day is hit the bars or casino, or kick back and watch television? I think that speaks more to what happens in the classroom than if we ourselves master one medium or another.

What we do speaks so loudly they may not hear what we say!
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Last edited by LarrySeiler : 02-08-2009 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:40 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

A teacher needs to be good at teaching first and foremost. If you're a good artist too, then that's a bonus. It's not pre-requisite to being a good teacher. It may even be a disadvantage. Any sort of art school experience at a higher level will give a teacher enough breadth of insight into how to produce art - it's not rocket science after all.

I don't know about anywhere else but in England you need a degree to teach - that's an academic qualification. And if you've achieved even a 3rd class degree you won't be a monkey! Art schools require tutors to have at least some sort of form.

Any body who has taught will realise what talent for teaching you actually need to teach well - you either can or you can't - simple as that. Really, really good teachers are as few and far between as good artists - you're lucky if you've had one, you're even luckier if you are one.

I have had plenty of teachers who were terrible teachers but good artists. One even went on to sell a painting for £5,000,000. You learn different things from those types of people.

But I'm eternally grateful to my school teacher who had good drawing skills and taught us to draw tonally from life very well from year one. Learning young is pre-requisite to having good drawing skills later in life.

If you have children who you'd like to excel at art, then private lessons may be required (just like music) - otherwise they'll get a good enough general art education at school. Art education isn't the only thing that makes a good artist good anyway.

Remember, Captain Kirk wasn't the brightest on board. But he did get the best out of his crew.

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Last edited by nit-wit : 02-09-2009 at 04:16 AM.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:26 AM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?
I teach ages 11-18 and have always felt at least 'adequate' in my ability. I've felt lost a couple of times when teaching some 18yr olds who clearly had more talent for drawing than I did, but as mentioned by someone else, I made a point of this - Look how good this is, its better than I can do, I'm really impressed, show me how you did that bit with charcoal etc. It boosted their self-worth and made the other kids realise that every individual has their 'thing'. My 'thing' is ideas, spontanaeity and outside- the -box thinking. Staff and pupils alike often come to me for a different point of view on something. They value this as a skill as they would if I was a great painter or printmaker. I was also advised by a more senior teacher that if you were asked a question or asked to demonstrate something that you werent that sure of, tell them! "I haven't got much experience in that to be honest, let's have a go together!" That way they share the learning with you, and again, they feel pretty pleased with themselves that they are at your level in something.
In Art, everybody is good at something, there is such a breadth and depth to the subject that it shouldn't be about knowing everything, and being able to access something and learn it, is much more important!
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Old 02-16-2009, 01:22 PM
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Re: Do art teacher's need to be good at all/most mediums to teach art?

An Art teacher needs a good working knowledge of most but not all, so that they can demonstrate principals to students. And should hope that the creative juices within the students DO make their work superior to the teachers. That makes them an Artist.
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