The above image shows the view during my commute to my five week school placement. As an Art Education major I am required, before student teaching, to complete five full weeks, everyday, at a school offering my discipline. I was placed in a middle school about an hour away from my house. At first, of course, I was terrified (and not so excited to wake up two hours before the sun everyday) but like most things, it always has a way of working out; and let me tell you, it did. My experience was something I could not have made more perfect if I tried.
The woman I was assigned to shadow had been working in that school for 20+ years, and actually student-taught herself in that same classroom. In these five weeks, I learned so much about myself as an educator and as a human being. Working with students, I got to experience some cruel truths to the education world as well as the art world. Both are struggling in our society; but can work together to bring about an uplifting message that artists and educators are needed. We need dedicated and creative minds to pull our schools out of the slump they are currently in. Teachers need to be passionate, but unfortunately many are not.
I know it may sound like a lot to say, considering I am a wide eyed student looking to change the world, but truly anything is possible with drive, support, and the right tools. I got to work with 6 classes of students from 6th to 8th grade and the realization that hit while I did so, swept me off my feet for a second. These kids had no interest in art whatsoever. It is no longer looked at as a creative break from other subjects, something “fun” or intriguing in their worlds where anything is possible. These students seemed to have grown up too fast and got rid of their imagination ages ago. It was both scary and sad for me to witness. Although I am not much older than they are, the gap in creative process and appreciation is great, causing me a lot of concern. I wanted to shake them; sneak into their minds the beauty of art, what possibilities it holds, and what it can teach us. They were only concerned with doing the bare minimum and getting done.
Lucky for me, I had an amazing artistic experience, provided by my teacher in high school. I felt like I had the power to bring great things into the world, whether it be to start a movement or to simply put a smile on my face. No idea was ever too outrageous and anything I envisioned was a new exciting task to tackle. Having that support and my eyes opened to art I decided to pursue this career, with the help of my professors and our Art and Education departments at Marywood. Now coming full circle, I am nothing but grateful to my teachers and the experiences they have provided me with. Art has opened so many doors for me, and continues to do so. Right now I feel like I hold the keys, passed down to me from those before me. I have the keys and plan to open those doors to my future students who, like me, will strive to create greatness.