Home Forums Dialogue Portal Dialogue Portal: Part 4 1. CURRICULUM

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    1. CURRICULUM: What is your opinion of present studio art, art education and art history curriculum (feel free to address any or all of the three disciplines)?


    Studio art curriculum or project-based lessons for me involves sculpture, drawing and painting. The curriculum does not encompass or embrace what a well-rounded artist or student should possess. The problem I encounter and perceive with art education in today’s schools are current curriculum stifles the creative process because students are so concerned with grades and expectations rather that the process and experience of problem-solving and exploration of one’s self. It is hard to encourage students to break boundaries when you as an educator are under constraint of a curriculum that does not allow for individuality to its fullest.


    My opinion of present-day studio art, art education and art history is that at the middle school level, art is regarded as a “special” and not a privilege for the students. I understand that it is not a core subject but it is the “A” in STEAM where creativity sparks the imagination to use the science, technology and math skills. Only having approximately 60 days with my students, it makes it very difficult to go in-depth for an extended period of time. I am trying to introduce my students to a variety of media and expose them to as many artists as I can while providing a connection to their every day life. I am also confronted with the fact that after my class, some students will not enter another art classroom until they reach high school or college (and that is if they choose an art class). I then have to make sure that my lessons align with standards and that I have a certain percentage of students at mastery or proficient in their learning ability. The art curriculum, in my opinion, needs to continue to find a balance between the traditional art history/ art making and the future.


    I agree with you in the fact that art educators are bounded by administrative requirements that tend to overshadow student needs. I love the fact that I can choose how I want to teach the students but become frustrated when certain cross-curricular implementations are requested. It is important to integrate subjects as long as the “original” subject did not lose its identity (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1975). Studio art is where creativity, innovation and dialogue come together as one.


    I don’t find as much frustration with the grading aspect of curriculum as I find frustration with it’s rigidity.
    I would like to allow my students the freedom to explore media and artists/art movements without confining them to requirements set forth by districts.
    Studio art is very much about the techniques and how our students (and we) respond to them. Gaining understanding through teacher driven instruction is wonderful, but there is something so exciting in the moments when a student discovers an artist or movement that they love on their own.

    Jacqueline Geiple

    I feel like the present studio art curriculum is just in an awkward transitioning stage. It is trying to faze out the more structured, traditional approaches of art and instead moving towards a more contemporary and conceptual curriculum. Traditionally, courses were taught by medium and technique (pencil drawing, acrylic painting, oil painting, functional pottery, ceramic sculpture, film photography) which was paired with some type of chosen subject (portrait, still-life, landscape, abstraction, etc.) and some specific focus on elements and principles alongside a classical (and usually male) artist. There seemed to be a formulaic approach to the curriculum: pencil drawn self portrait, focusing on value and contrast, studying Rembrandt. However, over the past few years studio art seems to be shifting away from that structure and moving towards ideas, concepts, artistic voices, cultural/societal connections, and artistic expressions. The current shift is more student/learner-focused and into student decision-making, which I think leaves a lot of studio art educators feeling at a loss. The type of learning that studio art teachers have been trained to teach is fading away, and now there is a stronger focus on newer concepts that may not have been a strong emphasis in their former art education foundations…so naturally, there is a level of discomfort and uncertainty. I personally favor the shift overall because a lot of important areas of art (and the world in general) have been neglected in the past, however, I am aware of the obstacles that art educators will face…mostly with time and budgets in order to accomplish all areas that the new curriculum sets, and to the degree of its higher expectations.


    My impression of art education is that it is too narrow and too discipline focused. I realize that each art form needs to be this way to some degree, but I think it has become rigid and non-responsive. I think about this in regards to new media and the implications it has for pedagogy, there is no doubt that we need to affect change in our learning environments; to transform curriculum and how it is experienced. With the widespread presence of digital technology and on-line programs, such as cloud sharing, social media, search engines, and extensive archives, the ubiquity of electronic devices and the popularity of video games, schools cannot ignore the centrality of new media in our children’s lives. To separate learning experiences from lived experiences, is not an effective way to educate. Therefore, it is critical that pedagogy includes exploration, experimentation, collaboration and use of new media. Digital resources should be integrated into the core curriculum, along with the arts, encouraging development of inter-disciplinary, participatory learning, such that creativity and innovation are supported, as well as the gaining of new perspectives. In addition, fine arts disciplines need to interact with each other to a greater extent than what is currently the norm. I also agree that there is too much emphasis placed on achieving results and outcomes, on meeting expectations rather than exploring and gaining insight.

    Elizabeth Eagle

    With the (re)vision and (re)vitalization of the National Core Art Standards, I feel that studio art and art education is in a position now to become more relevant than ever in 21st century education, through the support of creative and innovative thinking, and collaborative processes that reach across curriculum and future career paths. I find that a current struggle in moving forward, however, is the traditional (art) education practices and teacher-centered learning that still occurs. I realize that it can be difficult to transition into new ways of thought, but as a high school art educator, I see students come into our art department and struggle with creative and conceptual thought; wanting to be told what to do in order to avoid working through an artistic process and investigation. I often find that some students lack a want of learning and discovery; it is vital that a contemporary approach to art education, complete through K-12, is taken, not only in the arts, but throughout all academic areas.


    I dont feel as though much needs to be changed with the status and present condition of the art education curriculum. I feel that it much changes with the way society is and the ever changing world in which we live in. The only thing that I can think about in all the assignments and reading and after listening to the lectures from the Professors I feel that maybe a challenge in curriculum would be how current day art education takes from the past and since a lot of students are unaware of the past as much as they are of the present and future it might make it difficult to have that work within that curriculum. Its important to include the past, however focusing on the future is probably the best option since that is the direction we are moving.

    Lance Rautzhan

    It seems that K-12 has picked up STEAM. And I’m totally into that. Integrating art making into other curriculums as a way to stimulate visual inquiry is on target. It’s also an excellent way to ensure that art programs stay funded. The T stands for technology and so creating with new technologies is being introduced. Art education must continue to lead the way by stressing new media in the art studio classroom and beyond. The potential for learning and experimentation extends outside of schools because of the geographic and time-based flexibility that the internet and portable technologies provide. Socio-economic and cultural lines can be more easily crossed in collaborative web-based efforts.


    My opinion of studio art in general is at the university level. I immediately think of my own studio art experience in my BA, in which the art education was highly discipline-based. I studied at the painting department, and it might be somewhat natural that the education was discipline-based. However, there were almost no interactions between the other departments, and the professors were concerned with paintings to look “graphical”, which was a major no-no for the department. I experienced in my MA that students were much freer in terms of artistic forms and interdisciplinarity. However, even though it seems like a freer environment, there is still the concern in succeeding in one discipline. The professors usually read interdisciplinarity as “confusion” or “distraction” in MFA shows.

    Liz Leslie

    My opinion of present studio art, art education and art history curriculum is that some of it is viewed by others as a complete waste of time. I try to give my students the parts that I feel are truly important to me, and that I can care enough to teach passionately about to them. If I do not care, it is highly unlikely that I am going to get them to care about a topic. I feel some areas of the arts can be viewed as frivolous, and not terribly important, and I try to focus on bringing meaning to my curriculum and my students personal art. This current crisis we are living through has shone a light on the importance of the arts, which makes my profession seem more important for a second, but I feel all will return to normal when school settings go back to the way they were with art being at the bottom of the totem pole. I feel I have to advocate for everything I do, and everything my students do, and I want to make sure it is important to our school.


    Present studio art education in my opinion is a middle ground between finding a voice as an artist while also still filling in the fundamentals and techniques of art. As an undergrad I remember feeling confused during my particular studio art course because it was mostly project based curriculum looking for specific things within the artwork. There was no part of the work being created that was about who I was as an artist. Once we would share our work it became about the process of creating, but for me the process was just doing what was asked of me per rubric specifications. By the end of the course I had no idea who I was as an artist. I didn’t know who I was creating for other than a rubric. There are things that need to be learned, taught and focused on. The issue comes in when the rubric does not allow for artistic voice. There has to be a balance with the two. We need to work to mess the two together to give the artist the skills, knowledge and techniques while also creating that artistic voice. That is the challenge. Even teaching elementary students, we still have to try and find that same balance to let them be the creative young artist while giving them formal skills to learn. I work hard to ensure my guidelines, expectations and rubrics look only for the skill, the technique and process but as far as end product I want that to be a reflection of the student.

    caroline grace

    I feel as though studio art is a necessary course that all students must participate in while attending school. Not only are they learning about other cultures, history and artistic techniques, they also are learning about themselves through their art making.

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