SchoolArts Magazine

NOV 2012

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Editor's Letter "Artists work from big ideas, but to motivate and sustain their interest and to make their ideas worth pursuing, they find personal connections to them. Student artists also need personal connections to big ideas." —Sydney Walker, Teaching Meaning in Artmaking (Davis Publications, 2001). M otivation. It's been a heading on just about every lesson plan I've ever written. In the schools where I first taught in Louisiana, our lessons were driven by Madeline Hunter's precepts from Motivation Theory for Teachers (Corwin Press, 1969). In the last district where I taught, motivation was called "warm up" on our lesson plans, but my preferred term is one that Davis Publications (SchoolArts' parent company) uses in its art education textbooks: engage. Whatever it is called, Nancy in a tea shop in China. Travel to new places can motivate and feed your own curiosity, leading you to share your passions with your students. motivation written into a lesson provides prompts to help engage students and focus their attention. Including from various times and cultures, then choose good questions at this stage serves to activate works to share with your students. students' prior knowledge and to introduce lesThis month's issue includes articles that detail son themes and concepts. Meaningful questions a variety of approaches to motivation; big, endurmake lesson concepts relevant to students and ing ideas such as identity and symbols; the incluinspire and encourage curiosity. sion of historic artists, contemporary artists, and How do you, as an art teacher, go about develdiverse cultures; and interdisciplinary connecoping lessons and units that engage students and tions and pop culture. encourage curiosity? One approach is to use big There is another important aspect of motivaideas, enduring understandings, and key question to consider. It isn't written into the lesson tions to design lessons that are relevant to stuplan, but it, too, is required for a lesson to be sucdents' interests and concerns. Personalizing big cessful. You must also be motivated and engaged ideas for art-making can lead to student discover- in presenting and teaching a lesson. If you are not ies both on their own and with their classmates. motivated, your students will not be motivated. If Start by linking big ideas and art-making to you are not curious, your students are not likely individual student interests and experiences. to be. So share your enthusiasm and passion; your Think about how the idea is expressed in art students will be enthusiastic and passionate, too. Follow me on Check out my blog at

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