I feel that our role as educators is to reach our students, to relate to them, to help them grow, and to prepare them for the world. I mean to help my students ignite a passion for something that can carry them through their lives. This is the role of any educator, but I believe that arts educators are in a rare position of influence. The arts are a direct line to the heart, and, at the same time, are distinct from other academic subjects: arts pull ideas and feelings from deep places, but they are often less valued in our culture. The arts allow teachers to be more fully present to their students, to relate to them personally, and to help them through difficult times in their lives. We accomplish this by presenting a safe place where students can dive deeply into personally rewarding work, which is especially critical with students who don’t necessarily feel at ease anywhere else. The arts classroom is often a refuge for these students. They eat lunch there, do their homework for other classes there, and just generally try to be there for as much of the school day as they possibly can be.
And that’s before we even get to the matter of art-making.
In my own art-making, I look inwards and give form to the ideas and fantasies I find there. Everyone has fundamental, dearly held ideas like this. My educational goal is to help students find the motivation to explore who they are and to discover what is important to them. With this knowledge, I wish to support them in developing the technical skills with materials and the craftsmanship that they need to realize their own ideas. I want my students to love making, to love process, to love product, and to love expression.