By Nina M. Benson
As a teacher, I am compelled to offer instruction and guidance to my students. I am deeply concerned for their understanding of new information and what they eventually do with their new knowledge. I desire for them to recognize how their understanding of what they learn, effects others as much as it effects them. I want them to be responsible – be responsibly affective.
Part of what I teach students comes from what I know – my own understanding of new and old knowledge and it’s effect upon me. In this regard, learning is somewhat cyclical – call it the connect, or sadly sometimes, the disconnect that we as humans have upon one another. We do not live in bubbles – anything and everything we do and say has an effect – a connection. As teachers we have a great responsibility to make what we offer, as knowledge, matter. We must appeal to the heart of a child, (there is little connection between the mind and heart – they lack maturity which makes them children! – future adults under construction).
I have the privilege of working for a district where the arts are understood as an integral part of a child’s development. As art teachers we have always known that the arts make for the finishing touches upon a child – it is the stuff of a classical education – we offer the grace of education. Where some students are not as successful in academia; we can provide opportunities for greatness. We provide the channels for the academics to flow – the connectors… Stated earlier, we sometimes disconnect. What we offer as art education is merely instructions in the mechanics of art production. We become dry.
We forget what brought us into the profession of art. The simple pleasure of creating art – of allowing ourselves to flow into a creation and sharing it with others. Sometimes we just need to get what is inside out and our means of expression is art… Too often, time slips in and robs us of our passion. We neglect ourselves, our desires to create; and substitute our creativity and live through our students. We are like the master chef who teaches from a cookbook rather than their own capable hands. And then the student chef produces food from a box of cheese macaroni.
We are all teachers who happen to be Artists. We should be creating our own art and gathering for art classes and getting lost in museums and galleries. We should be discussing art history and debating contemporary thoughts. We should be showing our art to our communities. We should be sharing of ourselves in means that are best suited to our gifts, in this we will become revitalized. We will have fresh air to return to those we see as our future – our students.