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Why I teach Art

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“It takes far less energy to move from first-rate performance to excellence than it does to move from incompetence to mediocrity.

Use feedback analysis to identify your strengths. Then go to work on improving your strengths. Identify and eliminate bad habits that hinder the full development of your strengths. Figure out what you should do and do it. Finally, decide what you should not do.”– Peter Drucker

 

While teaching is considered stressful and time consuming, the journey of being an Art teacher so far has been more than rewarding. Art has always been a substantial part of my life. It was the only thing that I turned to whenever and whatever the situation; being stress or inspiration, being an artist has relieved me from stress and has been the most prominent strength and the major source of success throughout my 24 years.

At school I barely had any help from any of my curricular teachers except for a few of my Art tutors who contrary to other teachers always found that art was something which I was inclined towards. It also gave me and my art tutors the best return-on-investment which proved to be quite self-rewarding.

The problem started when several individuals -some even within the educational institutions- thought that art was causing me distraction from more important subjects at school. This in my opinion is what kills the individual’s aspirations, by setting a standard benchmark across the whole board with which every child has to learn through, instead of using one’s strengths to engage and motivate children forward. Creating teaching methods according to their learning styles and different motivations.

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Growing up and meeting new people, had me realize that whenever I mention that I study Art I would come to find 2 categories of people. On the one side there are the ones who find it interesting and ambitious and then there are the so-called cynics or realists – those who would not take you seriously and call you ‘nothing but a dreamer’.

A few years back, I had a very good opportunity for a considerably very good job. However, the interview did not go as well as I thought. The manager, whom I had the interview with, persisted me to drop out of Art school and go work for her since in her selfish and limited worldview ‘you do not make money out of Art, and being a teacher is nothing’. That was my quickest no-decision I ever had to make.

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All of this negativity, pursued me to chase my ambitions further, dream even bigger and become an artist, study Art and teach what I have learned throughout the years; teaching subjects, methods and skills to actually push people in what they believe in. Art is a multi-dimensional subject which can be objectified and mean different to people, but one must fundamentally appreciate the creative process and divergent skills it transfers, the intrinsic happiness and relief an artists feels when creating Art.

Art does not only consist of having the talent to create a pleasing picture. It is a way of communication and expression, which applications can be used in therapy in healing depression, stress, anxiety, helps people with disability and people who suffer from ADHD and Autism to deliberately develop visual sensory and motor skills.

To be able to see improvement within a student is already rewarding, but to have the chance to help and be an influence of change in an individual’s life is something which requires responsibility and above all something which I feel very grateful of.

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Thinking back on my personal experience in school I definitely think that education should become more personalized and less factory-style — a one-size-fits-all –. It should teach to the problem not towards the tools, that way the child will be able to apply the tools and lessons learned in schools to real situations later in their life.

I could barely remember any of the learn-by-heart material I’ve learned in maths or history after I came out of the exam. It is only when you apply these things to your situations that you learn the lesson and concept behind it.

My Invitation to Readers

Work out what  courses a.k.a experiences your child will need to be successful according to his abilities and strengths and then reverse engineer those right experiences.

This methodology allows the child to stretch- to aim for larger goals, become inspired -because it is only through inspiration and intrinsic motivation that students deeply engage, become curious and decide they want to learn and not and I repeat NOT when teachers are ready to teach. If they do not succeed it is important for the system to help teach the right lesson that needs to be taught and help build the resilience needed to get back up and try again and again until that aim or goal becomes fulfilled.

This can be difficult for parents to do. So much of our society and culture is centered around building self-esteem in children by never losing a football game, building great resumes by never failing a test or exam. We inhumanely reward our children based on test scores who are constantly receiving feedback from teachers that never requires them to think about whether they can do better, learn on their own terms and be inspired by their personal multi-dimensional aspirations. Good grades are what matters, no matter the different aspirations.

From a very young age, many of our children come to expect medals, trophies or certificates at the end of a season or course-simply for participating. Medals and parchments which get lost or end up in a pile in some box in the garage which serve no real meaning to those kids later in life. In some ways, the awards are really for the parents-it is often them who get the most out of seeing the accumulation of certifications and medals. It sure feels better to congratulate our kids on their achievements than to console them for a tough failure. In fact it is very tempting for many parents to step in and ensure that their children succeeds no matter what, even if they have to do the job for them- to be supportive. But what is the meaningful lesson from that?

He’ll most probably now think, my parents will be there to solve the hardest of problems for me. Good grades are what matters no matter if I solve the problem or not, much more than doing the work and getting the job done.

When I worked with 5-10 year old students these past years, I always wanted kids to take responsibility for organizing their own exhibition, learning how to communicate their drawings and paintings rather than have parents step in to do it for them.

When they learned to do it themselves, they learned how to organise, communicate, how to divide responsibilities and fundamentally appreciate what they have actually worked for and produced.

This is essentially the concluding though I want to make. that if we ought to influence a child’s development we ought to do it right, smart and personal. As top researcher Carol Dweck suggests we ought to help kids develop a Growth mindset– where they learn how to learn as opposed to a Fixed Mindset– where they believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

and this can be accomplished not by rewarding solemnly towards test-scores, or by receiving medals and other extrinsic rewards but by tailoring our methods towards the intrinsic individual aspirations and motivations of every child.

 

Written by Kelsey May Connor and first published on Perspettiva

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