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    It is not possible to shed power imbalances in the teacher/student relationship no matter the intent. Judy Chicago acknowledges that students often position the teacher as authority and she recognizes the difficulties of opening students to discovery through research, dialogue, experimentation, and reflection. Chicago’s pedagogy begins with research, dialogue, and self-presentations. From the self-presentations and shared readings emerge topics that a skilled facilitator identifies through active listening and questioning as underlying issues and then challenges students into confronting their greatest concerns, first by asking students to search for their content in art by others and in other forms of discourse on the topic. What are some strategies or teaching and learning experiences that can prepare teachers to be such facilitators? How does a facilitator/teacher guide without directing students?


    I find that many teachers try to answer the question of how does one efficiently guide without directing their class of students. This question has appeared in a number of my art education classes, and I can honestly say that I do not have an immediate answer to give. I do believe that, as a future art education teacher, that I need to continually ask myself this question and to think of the differences that it will have in my classroom one day. It is true that students immediately hear the word “teacher” and associate all power and authority, in the classroom setting, to this single individual. It is difficult, and quite tricky, for a teacher to establish a persona that allows students to want to guide their own learning instead of fully relying on a teacher. Through research, dialogue, experimentation, and reflection, students can find ways of giving themselves a powerful influence on their learning in the art classroom. As I briefly mentioned, the question as to what fosters teacher guidance comes through creating a space that encourages students to guide their own learning and experimenting. Art teachers need to find that happy medium in the debate between guiding verses directing. From my own experience in the high school art classroom, I often guided most of my learning. My art teacher was a wonderful individual who obviously understood the guiding concept. Not only was my art teacher a caring and engaged teacher, he was also very hands-off with student learning. He encouraged us to research, experiment, come up with a hypothesis, discuss, and advocate for the art that we were learning about and producing. I can obviously see that the guiding method may work more efficiently in a high school age group; however, that does not mean that younger ages cannot engage in this idea as well! I have recently been reading a lot about research workbooks, and I believe that incorporating something like this into the classroom would encourage students to take on the role of teacher/learner/researcher. Sure, this puts a lot of responsibility into the hands of a student; however something like this may be the answer to this question prompt- how does a teacher guide without directing students? I believe that teachers should encourage students to become researchers in their own craft- to make decisions, discussions, experiments, reflections, and presentations tailored to meaningful parts of their lives. By creating an environment that encourages this type of learning, I do believe that teachers can begin to shed power imbalances in the art classroom.


    I think power is largely psychological. If society tells us we are in power, then we are. If society tells us we are oppressed, then we are. It takes a lot of strength to ignore what people are saying around you, but I feel that sometimes ignoring others is precisely what gives you power to achieve whatever you may choose to do. I agree there is a major problem with how students view their instructors – they shouldn’t feel inferior, but should respect their instructors and feel that they are allowed to enter a dialogue with them even if their opinions differ. As a future educator, I think the most important thing I can do for my students is help them realize they are in control of themselves. Others can tell them how to think, feel, or whether or not they have power, but ultimately, all a person must do to have power is believe that they have power. As an educator I find it incredibly important that I do not teach students what to think but instead how to think and make their own decisions, just like Alex points out. I’ve come to love the term a professor came up with – “confident creators” because it is truly my goal as an educator to create artists who are confident in themselves and have the skills and bravery to approach any kind of project, whether it be art based or not.


    I feel that an effective way to achieve this open and responsive environment for students is for teachers to begin in the same manner that Chicago’s pedagogy is presented. Having the ability to create and expose learners to a new atmosphere where they have control over what and how they learn is essential. In order to move away from positioning the teacher as an authority figure, one must allow the student means for self-discovery in a way that gives them the power to make decisions. I can recall from my own experiences within an art classroom that it takes time to have the confidence to take direction in your own work. Many times, I would look to my instructor to give me solutions, and to lead me in a certain way. I was under the impression that an instructor should have all the answers, and for that matter, all the right answers. With practice and guidance techniques, a good instructor can lead a student who seeks this help to other methods of discovery, experimentation, and reflection. Dialogue and discussion with peers is an effective way to do this, and I believe it can be the first step in engaging students to reflect and innovate new ways of personal engagement within their work. I am reminded of our first class session in A ED 322, where each of us became engrossed in conversation with another classmate with the purposes of brainstorming and developing the exploration of our concept or idea. This was exceptionally helpful for me, as I could use my classmate’s thoughts and ideas as a resource to facilitate my thinking. Having a multitude of differing perspectives on my concept was influential to my own self-discovery with the topic, as it gave me a certain confidence in knowing that I could have a conversation about my ideas with others in a way that helped to progress my knowledge and thinking. I think that this methodology can be translated in a way that teachers could use one on one with a student, or within an entire classroom. Giving students the opportunity to verbalize and have an open-ended discovery of their ideas will allow them to take control over the research and decision making of their thoughts and ideas. I feel that this method of facilitation lends well to the aspect of creative thinking and innovation, which is a concept I am currently exploring. Practicing this method of active guidance and facilitation for students will allow them to develop thinking strategies required for discernment, and also to strengthen their sense of agency to determine for themselves how they might tackle a certain problem. It is important to create a classroom environment where as a facilitator you are not pointing students in a set direction towards the answer. Educators should facilitate art as an investigation, and in the words of Olivia Gude, we need to help students “understand the art of others and seeing their own art making, not as exercises, but as research that produces new visual and conceptual insights.”


    Confidence and persistence goes a long way in breaking through exclusion, omission, and marginalization. And, as Nicole (ndo5021) and Alex (ale5171) discuss, educators can create places of learning that help to foster “confident creators” who don’t give up despite social systems of inequities. Integral to Judy Chicago’s feminist art pedagogy embodied in her teaching projects and her art are feminist principles of building agency and empowerment through content-based art that stimulates critical reflective dialogue. Nancy Youdelman speaks (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meoIEiwUep4) of her confidence in creating art from her life experiences and interests that she developed as a student of Judy Chicago in the 1970s. Jenn, you too provide examples from your learning experiences how you changed from being “under the impression that an instructor should have all the answers, and for that matter, all the right answers” to valuing “dialogue and discussion with peers” as strategies “to reflect and innovate new ways of personal engagement within their work … giving students the opportunity to verbalize and have an open-ended discovery of their ideas will allow them to take control over the research and decision making of their thoughts and ideas.”

    Starting from building confidence in individual students, I believe activist education is needed to change inequities apparent from a February 2015 report from the National Museum of Women in the Arts:

    • Full-time women artists earn $0.81 for every $1 earned by their male counterparts
    • Master of Fine Arts programs are generally between 65%-75% female, yet 70% of gallery space features art by men
    • Only 5% of artwork on major US museum walls is by women—yet 51% of artists are women

    Clearly, there are entrenched social systems of (de)valuation that many individuals will need to join forces to change. Olivia picks up on this need for teaching activism in learning to be “aware of how our work will be viewed and understood by others” and “by giving students examples of activism” through art and providing prompts or questions such as those she suggests in her response at http://judychicago.arted.psu.edu/forum/users/olivia-skoric/replies/. Within this dialogue several facilitation strategies drawn from teaching and learning experiences have been shared that begin to build a socially responsive art education resource. I invite others to add to the dialogue from your teaching and learning experiences regarding facilitating confident creators of activist art, or to respectfully question the ideas expressed.


    1.Social Changes
    In this postmodern network society featuring knowledgeablization, informatization and mass consumption, the aesthetics of social structure and everyday experience has gone through great changes, demonstrating features of postmodernism: the massive permeation and expansion of culture towards politics and economy; the sharp decline in the life cycle of knowledge and technique; the expansion of factors that influence individual’s socialization; the trend of establishing authorities and equal dialogue. People start to pursue the sense of personal worth and the opportunities to communicate with the world.

    2.Capital Operation and the Subsequent Issue of Educational Authority
    Capital is a generic term for the social resources used to create material, spiritual and credit wealth and their internal relationships. It concludes cultural capital, social capital, financial capital, human resource capital and other explicit or implicit capital. The development of society relies on the exchanges between capitals to create new value. In the postmodern network society, capital accelerate the development of our society and even influences our world. Being the core of social development, Implicit capital includes capitals like culture, rights, nations, gender and their social relationship.

    Class takes place in explicit as well as implicit capitals. The difference between people of different classes lies in not their economic relationship but the ever increasing cultural features and cultural orientation that come from their implicit capital. In art education, the construction of knowledge is also affected by class. Different class choose to learn different knowledge or process, transform, deliver and evaluate knowledge in different ways based on their values and interest orientation.

    Teachers and students belong to different classes. As a result, their have different communication methods and cultural rules. The oneness of informatization and the diversification of access indeed gave rise to imbalance of authority relations between teachers and students–the authority of teachers are challenged. The spread and reproduction between classes have also changed: communication in colleges and between colleges and the outside world have become much more fast, easy and effective due to decrease in turnaround procedures. So, capital exploitation of individual student and interaction with them becomes major part of education in information society. Chicago’s teaching method meets right the demand.

    3.Teachers’ Guidance in Education in Information Society
    Since students have various access to information, teachers’ role in this system will definitely transfer from the previous directors to listeners and guides, even implicit guides. The value of college teachers has shifted from knowledge construction to distinguishing, reprocessing and using information.
    First of all, teachers should be a moderate catalyst. The experience of self-development and self-recognition is a method to rebuild students’ self-confidence and rights. Teachers are just like outside catalysts. They have to trigger students’ inside catalysts to be able to work. Here are several ways for teachers to be outside catalysts without interfering or misleading the students’ thinking. No 1. Listen positively. Ask students to keep track of their words and find the inner voice from them. No.2. Ask questions. Students must try their best to give honest answers. Often in this exhausting condition will essence of problems appear. No.3. Let students think by themselves. Chinese Buddhism believes truths are got by the heart. That is to say, Buddhism is more about the heart than thoughts than methods. There are thousands of believers who studies Buddhism for years only to get no improvement in their understanding of it. Same is the case for education. Students have to understand things by their hearts.

    Second, students must have the right to choose for themselves. During the process of implicit guidance, the combination of students’ free choice with teachers’ techniques works well. Detailed operation methods are as follows: mode.1. Free choice. Students inform the teachers of what they like to read and learn based on their interests and needs. Mode.2. Technology fit. Based on a long period of observation, recording and analyzing the students’ learning habits, test results, book lists, even family background, gender, and age, we combine technological methods of education, psychology and big data to find out what they are most probably to like, need and fit. This two modes will make teachers’ implicit guidance more effective.


    Our Tea Time this week focused on the topic of navigating personal life with demands of work/student responsibilities and going forward into the work force as graduate students. What obstacles should be expected? As teacher/student relationships, it is important to facilitate discussions about weighing out as many aspects of future decisions and impacts to personal life dynamics. How do personal decisions, such as family, fit into graduate studies and employment searches? In a similar sense, researching and dialogue is important just as our creative progress is developing. How is art studio work impacted through these processes of graduate studies and employment opportunities? What are the power dynamics involved? How are these power dynamics different when contextualized diversely? For example, how does family, self creative art process/work, scholarly goals add to these conversations differently?


    I teach art to students in grades K-6. Even at such young ages, the students have been conditioned to search for the “right answer.” When I tell them that there is no wrong answer in art, I get looks that range from confusion to utter horror. Young students look to learn through everything they do. Educators, parents, siblings, friends: everyone is a teacher to them. To circumvent my position as authority figure in the art studio, I try to engage my students in lessons we can “learn together.” I write lesson plans as an outline of developmentally appropriate concepts that I’d like to discuss with the class, then open the lesson with questions to get the students talking about what they already know. Through this discussion they share ideas and build upon their knowledge, incorporated with the content I planned, then the students formulate their own project. To promote their success, I support and guide wherever necessary, but encourage my students to use their own thoughts and creativity to shape their artmaking.


    My art history classrooms are a bit non-traditional in that they are exclusively online. Therefore, my “round-table” discussions take place via Blackboard Collaborate or IM. In order to draw my students into an active community of learners, I use these optional discussion forums as a time for students to select topics or art to discuss and for us to (truly) explore together, as equals. I have found that by asking students to bring their topics/art pieces to the table at the time of the discussion, we are all forced to look at the thing from a fresh and spontaneous perspective, myself included.

    The historical nature of the course lends itself to a defined power dynamic: teacher as the bringer of knowledge, student as the vessel in which that knowledge is to be poured. In facilitating conversations with my students, my goal is to guide them to look deeper, become confident in looking, and find a voice through which they can take these discussions beyond this classroom. My “guidance” is not directing them, but rather providing a foundation and giving them the appropriate language and support to move forward in their looking.

    When these discussions were first introduced into my virtual classroom, I noticed (after reading through the transcripts) that students were directing their questions and comments to me instead of their peers. The log appeared to represent 5-6 one-on-one conversations with the instructor. Being cognizant of this dynamic in the discussions, I more easily recognized it and worked shift the conversation by challenging students to look to their peers and inviting others into the discussions.

    Observation, recognition and reflection are key in determining where these imbalances are occurring in the classroom and how to shift the dynamic.

    Danna Kerns-Streett

    The role of facilitator is on I have been working towards for a few years now in teaching. As I have been observed and have observed my own teaching via video recording I have realized that I do far too much talking and don’t give my students enough of a chance to talk to each other and certainly not enough time to react to what each other are saying. This year we established some guidelines for “Math Talk”.
    1) Everyone’s opinions matter and everyone deserves to be heard.
    2) Only one person speaks at a time.
    3) Everyone must participate.
    We talked about the fact that “participating” can mean actively listening as well as sharing.
    To help students start the conversation I also have sentence starters hanging from the ceiling as well. Overall I have seen and heard some great conversations among my students. The key to not swaying the students’ discussions is by asking open ended questions that encourage discussion rather than trying to get them to agree with the teacher.

    Judy Chicago

    Because there are so many examples of destructive power in our society – and in our classrooms – it is sometimes easy to forget that there are positive ways of enacting power and that should be the goal in the classroom; that is, to use one’s power as a teacher to help students find and exercise their own power. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of inappropriate use of power in the classroom, be it professors who dominate the classroom; take over the facilities and/or the students for their own artistic goals; and in my day, too many male professors slept with their female students.
    There need to be more and new ways to exercise power, using it to share with students – knowledge, information, guidance and support. Power should be exercised in the service of freedom for everyone.


    As a responder in this discussion said above, power is a strong word in regards to teachers in the classroom. I have personally experienced classrooms where the instructor dominates the class and I feel like this needs to change. Studying to become an art educator myself, I think it vital to an art student’s self esteem and also to their work to allow students their own freedom in the classroom to express their interests with the guidance of teachers rather than domination. An art student cannot freely think of creative ideas if he or she is being spoon fed what it is he or she should be making. I have also had instructors who are very opinionated and cannot put their mindset where the student’s is to try to understand their logic.
    In one of my classes this semester I am currently researching and thinking about the concept of bringing “controversial” art into the classroom. When thinking about this topic, I constantly think about examples of work that show controversial and destructive power in our society rather than pieces that promote positive forms of power. Some artworks may be controversial but can allow promote positivity in students thinking such as bringing about equality in race and gender. I believe that an ideal classroom would be one with a teacher who is supportive in a student’s drive to create while also teaching history in a way to bring about change, not only for the student but for the greater good.


    It can be hard to find the balance of power in an art class room. As the teacher you want to be there for your students without overstepping their boundaries of being an artist. Some students may require more guidance than others, like in most typical classrooms. I think it is sometimes difficult when to tell if you should allow your student to find the solution to their issue on their own or if you should step in and lead them. I think modeling is a great tool for the art classroom. Through doing a demo, you reach visual learners, verbal learners and by letting students practice along side you, you can reach tactile learners. This allows some guidance but also gets the child more actively involved. It gives a clear idea of what you expect from your students which can help avoid road bumps.
    Another thing I believe is important is getting to really know your students’ personalities. This way you can learn when to let them struggle on their own, when to give an acknowledgement of their efforts and when to ask how their process is going. Each child is an individual so this offers many different ways to handle learning. By learning who your students are you can hone in on their behaviors and act more appropriately.
    Lastly scaffolding is another option for leading your students to the right answer. As mentioned some may need more steps in the process and others may only need a couple depending on their understanding. Art is a subject where independence should remain in tact but no child should ever feel completely abandoned. Though it may be hard at first, I feel this is something you can truly only master from experience.

    Kayla Tompkins

    At the start of any class, students are going to label the teacher as having power over them. This power is not always so terrible. The teacher has had more education than the students and has probably experienced more in his or her life than any of the students have yet. The power that the teacher has over the student can be used for good! While students should have the freedom to experiment with whatever materials and concepts they want in the classroom, they need some guidance to know where to get started. This is where the teacher comes in. Sometimes giving students complete freedom to do whatever they want can cause frustration or “artist’s block.” I fear that this would cause some students to have anxiety in the art room. This is when the art educator should use power to create some sort of prompt that guides the students into their experimentation.

    While I do think that the power a teacher possesses in the classroom can be beneficial when used correctly, it is also easy to overpower the students. Rather than the teacher lecturing for the entire class and having the students listen causes the teacher to have more power than necessary. In order for everyone to be respected in the classroom, it should be encouraged that everyone speaks an equal amount during a discussion. This way, all students feel as though they have a voice, rather than just the teacher and the few more outgoing students. The art classroom should always be a safe, judgment-free zone for students to express their opinions.


    As a future art educator who is so keenly aware of what it is like to be a student, one of the concerns that preys strongly on my mind is the question of how to empower students to be not only the best version of themselves that they can be, but also the kind of artist that they want to be, without caving to the societal forces around them. Every student, be they at the public school or collegiate level, is typically very aware of the influence and power held over them by various forces such as parents, instructors, advisers, government organizations, social media, advertising, dominant majorities, etc. In a world where our young people operate under so much pressure on a daily basis, how can we make them aware of their own potential to project influence and inflict change?

    There are hundreds of pedagogical methods that have been developed to produce such results, many of which revolving around student autonomy and the introduction of modern, sometimes controversial subject matter to act as relevant stimulants. In engaging students with issues that either pertain to them or the world that they will inherit, they are often inspired to act. However, how is this possible in challenging classrooms residing in impoverished, religious-affiliated, or otherwise limited/censored schools? More importantly, is it even possible to convince some students that they hold their own source of power when they may have experienced perpetual victimhood in their personal lives? Even if they are not an actual victim of any source of violence or chronic discrimination, when students are so often told to follow rules and keep their heads down in every other class and club they participate in, what is the most effective way to build a safe place for them to make their own rules and exert their own power in the art room?

    As an educator, I too, will be source of power in the classroom. Unfortunately, this is one source of power that my students will not be able to subvert. However, no matter what the circumstance, I can be a source of collaborative power instead of a repressive power. It does not escape my attention that different students may need different types on influence in order to function at their best; a student with inattentive parents may need me to be an authority figure, or a shy student may need a lack of supervision in order to freely explore a subject. I am curious to know what others think is the best way to strike a balance between the individual needs of each student and the general goal of empowering the class as a unit.

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