Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Attempt

My father was a sailor and taught me at a young age that when sailing one never goes in a straight line when the winds are blowing. You have to go back and forth to make progress from one point to another. I like to think of my thesis process and specifically my attempt to write my educational philosophy as sailing. To keep moving through I have to go back and forth and never in a straight line.

With that in mind I try my philosophy again with a much different tone this time. I feel like my first attempt was to general and broad and my secong attmept to loaded with jargon and theory. This time around I have a new perspective. Not to beat the analogy I drew to death but it is like a new wind is blowing my sails and so I must move differently to make progress.

Today I got job, another one anyway, teaching two sections of art appreciation in the Spring semester at McHenry County College. This philosophy draft was written in direct response to this. What do I want the students to do? Or better, how do I want them to engage the course? How will I engage the course? What theory or methods will I employ and why? There is still more writing to do and I must in a concise way find a way to operationalize my terms but I still feel like this is the most clear attempt I have made yet.

Your feedaback is much appreciated.

As an educator I am committed to considering art history and education as they intersect with each other at the college level. Identifying the purpose of art history in education is where this art history pedagogy begins. It seems to me through my own art history courses and current research that art history taught in its traditional “art in the dark” methods does not reach student’s current educational needs or those of the institution. Instead, a pedagogy grounded in the use of student’s experiences and responsive to changing historical and interpretive methods is key to making art history meaningful and purposeful.
One aspect of this art history pedagogy is the role students adopt while studying art history. Students in this context are the producers of knowledge. Through the use of their own experiences and previous education, learners bring with them a context to understand historical events and lived experiences of artists. College students, whether continuing education or beginning freshman, have a voice within this art history pedagogy. They will look at past images and objects in conjunction with their experiences and project forward meanings and contexts that are applicable to their lives as students.
Tied directly to student roles in this art history pedagogy, is the role of the educator. Just as the learners, the educator must mine his or her past experiences to use them as a way to understand the complex subject of art history. This pedagogy requires that educators be aware of their personal bias as well as values that will influence interpretation. This is not to deny bias or values but to openly display them and see them as valid ways of knowing. Educators in this art history pedagogy are presented with the challenge of balancing art historical knowledge with personal experience to interpret works and experiences.
Methods and theories enacted in this art historical pedagogy are paramount as they enable educators and learners to take on the roles described above. Art history in the college classroom setting is seen as being in flux with multiple voices contributing to the works. Voices like that of the artist, scholar, audience, and culture combine to create a revisionist version of art history. It is an art history liberated from the constructs of a timeline and map. Images and objects are understood and studied together through a process of understanding the ideas they convey as well as issues they address. In this context art history pedagogy sees the progression of art not as a rational progression that follows the expanding human mind but cyclical in nature as history is. Ideas, issues, and contexts repeat. To remain relevant to students studying the field works are studied within these cycles where connections can be made to their current context.
This art history pedagogy through its understanding of the roles of learners and educators as well as methods of interpretation and study is meant to bring art history from a static subject studied and taught with the same methods into new and changing trends of critical pedagogy and historical inquiry.


Thomas said...

What do you teach? I used to teach high school history.

Sarah said...

I will be teaching art appreciation next semester, my goal is to teach methodologies for teaching art history to future art history teachers.

Thomas said...

I took art history in college. I still have the really big textbook they made us buy.

Pretty, pretty pictures.

Thomas said...

When can we expect another post, Sarah?

Thomas said...

Don't hate me because I am weird, Sarah?