Songs for the Struggling Artist

This is Arts Education, apparently.
September 14, 2011, 7:35 pm
Filed under: art, education, theatre | Tags: ,

I just got an email summons to a professional development workshop at an Arts Organization that I work for. I do not want to go in the worst way. And here’s why: Look at what we’ll be covering at our workshop.
• Identifying core skills and processes embedded in the doing of making art
• Understanding Classifications and the Pedagogical Implications of Them
• Targeting Meaningful, Achievable Objectives
• Assessing Student Learning
• Learning How to Make Appropriate Adaptations and Modifications
• Lesson Planning
• Unit Planning
• Differentiating Instruction
• Universal Design for Learning
Find me just one phrase in that list of topics that has anything to do with art.

Come on, Arts Educators!!
Just, come on.

I’ve got a new gig, in addition to all these teaching artist jobs, as an adjunct professor. What strikes me, after all these years as a teaching artist, is how much leeway I have in the University setting to actually teach the art. Because no one’s looking over my shoulder, telling me how, why and what to teach, I’m actually a hell of a lot closer to what I actually do as an artist when teaching. Arts education seems to think it will help arts by breaking them down into little digestible bureaucratic boxes. This stuff just makes me mad and gets in my way. It keeps me from connecting directly with the form. It makes me hate theatre when I have to think about it in terms of its “learning outcomes.”
In teaching when no one’s telling me how to teach, I get to deal with aspects of the art that I actually care about. I get to help my students be better artists, instead of helping them look good for their (or the organization’s) assessments. The difference between these two ways of teaching art are really acute at the moment and I’m really not sure how I will get through this Professional Development without standing up and shouting “This is BULLSHIT!”


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