Bell Hooks stated in Teaching to Transgress, that, “The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.”
I would add that art education has the capacity to be transformational, and in its own way constitutes activism in its purest and most collaborative form... but only if and when student voice is engaged. The classroom that supports and cultivates student voice is a place in which students can push themselves to the next level, while also valuing that process of learning. The sharing of voice creates connections between people, and allows for dialogical spaces that enhance meaning and depth of experience in relation to content. Classrooms, both traditional and alternative, have so much potential. A classroom is a place of possibility. It is this territory of possibility that I wish to make manifest in my classroom. A space where students feel safe in the exploration of ideas, where they can take risks conceptually, where they can understand the details of technique, and where inquiry is open and happens often.
Functionally, my classroom is an active space, where the serious work of creative play takes place. In my teaching practice I seek to use a variety of strategies to move into a place of play, while relaying content and engaging students meaningfully. Specifically:
Didactic prompts are used as the vehicle to teach the technical, while simultaneously addressing evocative themes that allow students to connect personal experience or interest to the work they are being asked to make.
Dialogical investigations addressing readings and research are used to support the acquisition of curricular concepts while also building a base of collective knowledge, with each class cohort creating a unique archive of verbal contextualization over the course of the semester.
The inclusion of collaborative projects will support students in team building, seeing things from a new perspective, and act as a basis of experience for professional engagement after graduation.
Introductory engagements with components that support multiple styles of learning will allow for authentic moments of understanding as formal and thematic concepts come together to create project prompts.
Projects will investigate and support students prior expertise, and value that knowledge as it is integrated into the formal aspects of the students response.
Concurrently, I seek to create class spaces that allow students to be who they are while furthering their own research and skill sets. Each student brings their own understanding of the world into the classroom. They bring their own set of expertise, and their own set of values. By creating a space where student voice is heard and valued they will be more likely to question, engage and retain the content.
It is my hope that students walk out of my classroom with their own questions and the confidence and interest to investigate their own answers; technical — curatorial — conceptual. I want students to walk a way with deeper skill sets and a care for the process of making something; with a value of the materials and the worldly traditions that inform the processes that we address. Additionally, it is my hope that students leave my class with a willingness to take an aesthetic or conceptual risk in their artwork, and an appreciation for what is possible in their own work. Finally, I sincerely hope that students develop a critical understanding regarding the power of an image, the power of an artist, and how to use that power to be an agent of change as they live a life of creative practice.