4. Should studio art professors be prepared as teachers?

Home Forums Dialogue Portal Dialogue Portal: Part I 4. Should studio art professors be prepared as teachers?

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • Author
  • #3852

    Another important area of inquiry is the credentialing of university studio art professors. In contrast to k-12 teachers – who receive training in teaching – many studio art professors have none. Should this change and if so, how? Are PhD’s in studio art the answer or will this degree only contribute to increasingly academic art? And should studio art professors be required to keep producing and exhibiting art? If so, how do they balance the demands of their careers with their roles as teachers and what place should the educational institutions have in making possible such a balance? #JCeducators


    The standards for teaching at University levels should be raised. There should be some way of measuring and supporting professors who have had no pedagogy training. Why are there more standards and support for teachers at k-12 and not at collegiate levels, where the expectations for learning content is higher?
    The primary role of teaching is communicating content for students to comprehend. Although the growing problem with undergraduate professors, is they have little to no training in teaching. It seems that most MFA graduates are looking for a job to support their primary career as an artist. This appears to be the logical route for a struggling artist, being submerged in content area of interest everyday and faculty support. However, it is not conducive to making artists interested in teaching. If one is not interested in teaching, clearly do not go into the teaching realm. Although this thought seems clear to the observer, it is much deeper. The real problem is that schools are producing many artists in a highly competitive art world. Teaching at a University level is a securer route for the struggling artist. The question becomes: how do we fix the system already in motion?
    For, most professors are hitting tenure and are set in their ways. Can we change the expectations for the entry level of University professors along with additional support to those already teaching? Maybe a system could be implemented to help support new professors with requiring them to attend “x” amount of seminars/professional development hours in pedagogical training. Regardless of the fact, there needs to be a system designed to help support studio art professors in both academia and their own personal work. Students should not have to suffer horrible education and professors should be given ample support both in teaching and their pursuits as an artist. Meaning, yes, professors should be encouraged and supported to have faculty shows, but not if it takes away from the primary education of the students. This will only help with building the University’s program and surrounding community.


    Studio art professors should be prepared as teachers. Just because someone is a working artist, or once was a working artist, that does not mean that they have the ability to teach. Teaching is a craft in itself. Some people are more skilled in this craft. Someone could be an amazing artist, but a horrible teacher. Professors that lack teaching skills would certainly be less affective.

    It is important however, to be educated in the subject that you teach. A mathematics teacher that does not understand mathematics would certainly be less affective in teaching mathematics.

    University art professors are currently not required to be trained and accredited to teach like k-12 teachers. A credential system at the university level would ensure training in teaching techniques, and could prove to be useful. Implementation of such a program could be difficult, but the idea behind it is worthy of considering.

    Requiring PhD’s in studio is simply impractical. There is no way for every studio professor to obtain such a degree and would leave universities with a lack of professors.

    There is no way to require an instructor to continue to produce art. Knowledge of an art form does not necessarily require you to continue producing. An art professor could be very knowledgable of an art form even if they have not produced art in that form in some time.


    A studio art professor is required not only to create art but to exhibit their work in juried curated exhibitions. For annual review, merit raise, tenure, and promotion the number of exhibitions, their prominence, and reputation of the venue and juror makes a difference in continuing as a university studio art professor.

    Beth Clayton

    I think they should at least have to undergo a training session when hired to be a studio art teacher just to go over the basics of sensitivity and class organization.


    I think studio art professors should without a doubt receive at least some training as teachers, because that is their job after all: to teach. It seems obvious to me but for some reason it is not to many people in the education system. Many artists become studio art professors because they need the money, rather than because they want to influence students and help them become better artists. They take advantage of the studio facilities yet offer little guidance to their students. This sets an example for students as professors, and those students who go on to teach art may follow in the footsteps of their apathetic teaching methods.


    Absolutely, 100%, of course. Too many professors are artists taking advantage, and it’s terrible. As wonderful as those professors are that contribute and help students and are phenomenal teachers, it doesn’t make up for the ones who don’t have any desire to teach. You are being paid to do a job, to teach students art skills. If you aren’t willing to take the time to learn how to properly do your job, it means you don’t care enough about it, and then maybe you shouldn’t do that job in the first place.

    Art professors should feel welcome to bring their own skills, more than what an art education program has taught them. But they need to know the bare essentials, just like any other job would require.

    Sueanne Matthews

    Can great teachers be great artists?
    Does the commitment to teaching well compromise practice?
    So many of my teachers in studio practice were mid-career artists and focused on their own skills. Does this signal competition from a younger generation and develop a culture of “closed knowledge”.

    susan duby

    Of course they can. I have had amazing teachers that were also amazing artists. One of them was Faith Wilding and another Steve Kurtz. They taught and gave guidance to many artists that I am sure are grateful to this day for their expertise.


    A new topic thread begun by Sueanne Matthews flips Judy Chicago’s question by asking “Can great teachers be great artists? Does the commitment to teaching well compromise practice?” She continues: “So many of my teachers in studio practice were mid-career artists and focused on their own skills. Does this signal competition from a younger generation and develop a culture of “closed knowledge”.” Susan Duby responds: “Of course they can. I have had amazing teachers that were also amazing artists. One of them was Faith Wilding and another Steve Kurtz. They taught and gave guidance to many artists that I am sure are grateful to this day for their expertise.”

    For studio art teaching positions, faculty are evaluated annually and for tenure and promotion in the area of creative activity (exhibitions), teaching, and service to the school, college, university, community, and field. Studio art professors are, therefore, expected to be outstanding teachers and artists. However, nation-wide research studies have shown that peer and student reviews of university professors rate White male faculty highest and women of color faculty lowest. There is also quantitative evidence to support the notion that faculty are evaluated more harshly in classes that focus on social justice and diversity (Klinker, Agnello, Marbley, & Davidson, 2010).

    Paige Lunde

    Although K-12 teachers receive training, the time is useless unless the individual teacher takes initiative to improve. Aren’t studio art professors required to attend conferences or art events? It seems that staying current regarding techniques and visual culture would be enough to invigorate educators who are practicing artists. However, PhDs in the visual arts are significant resources for artists. Our visual arts field receives little support, we must encourage any attempt to further our discipline. I’m working on a PhD through IDSVA (The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts), the program is amazing!

    PhDs will not contribute to increasingly academic art but rather support artists toward understanding the historical dialogue between great thinkers by becoming a voice situated in that dialogue. In fact, in our program, we are currently questioning the academic ideal and how it creates universal limitations on being and production. This academic ideal is present in our nation’s schools, standardization shifts our focus from pursuing knowledge to automated learning that will unfortunately limit our student’s voices.


    I am a firm believer that a degree does not always equate to someone’s ability to be a good teacher. Two of the best teachers I have ever had had no prior education in teaching. A teacher should be a master of their skill and have the personality and desire that allows them to communicate their skills to their students. I am not saying here that teaching degrees are useless, rather they should not be the only defining characteristic of a person’s ability to teach. Many schools have become too obsessed with titles instead of character.


    I have studied a lot of bibliography on this topic. I can say one thing – that now a teacher who has no practice and only studied theory at a pedagogical university is valued much less than a practicing teacher who has been drawing for many years.

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.