Teaching with Contemporary Art

Everything All at Once

Painting by Kimberly Castillo

For many of us, a summer break is right on the doorstep and this is the time when teachers tend to think of everything all at once. We think about how the year went, what went well, what didn’t go well, what we will never (ever) do again, how to handle particular challenges next year, how to make the curriculum better, and on and on… It’s really quite bizarre. We can’t STOP planning in our heads. So in the spirit of thinking about everything all at once, here are just a few questions I’m thinking about going into the summer (and please… feel free to add your own!):

  • How can we better balance skill-building and teaching students to create work driven by big ideas?
  • When it comes to the specific courses we teach, whether it’s an introductory studio art course, photography, ceramics, graphic design, etc., what’s really worth teaching and learning?
  • How can we teach students to care more?
  • How can we teach students to deconstruct advertising?
  • How can we teach students to interpret history through art, rather than learn a version of “art history”?
  • In an age consumed by digital media and the ability to shoot dozens of pictures in an instant, what kinds of things can we continue to learn through teaching black and white darkroom photography?
  • How can students use sketchbooks in a variety of ways and truly make discoveries through their use that will impact learning?
  • Who are the artists that students can be introduced to in the specific courses we teach, and why do these artists make the most sense?
  • How can we continue finding ways to teach students that quality matters?

Jump in, the water’s fine.

Contributor
Joe Fusaro is the senior education advisor for Art21, and has written Art21’s “Teaching with Contemporary Art” column since 2008. He is an exhibiting artist and visual arts chair for the Nyack Public Schools in New York; and an adjunct instructor for New York University’s Graduate Program in Art and Arts Professions.

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