SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

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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38 NOVEMBER 2017 SchoolArts W hat kinds of behaviors, expectations, and commit- ments do social justice- o riented art teachers need? Here are some insights and valuable lessons learned that have allowed me to continue being efficient and energized in my work as a JUST art educator. These ideas toward devel - oping the ability to address social j ustice in the artroom concern pas- sion, beliefs, curriculum, change, suc- cess and failure, perseverance, social n etworking, and responsibility. 1. Passion Passion for social justice should fuel our teaching. As art teachers, it is our responsibility to acquire the knowl- edge, skills, and dispositions neces- sary to transform unjust educational structures into different settings for teaching and learning. 2. Beliefs Our teaching praxis reflects our worldview. As art teachers, we bring values, beliefs, and assumptions to our work. Our personal beliefs con- cerning social justice will determine whether we incorporate social justice content into our lessons. 3. Curriculum Teachers are "gatekeepers" of the curriculum. Every act of teaching is political. As JUST art teachers, we exercise political choice when we incorporate social justice issues int o our lessons. Likewise, we use political Being a JUST Art Educator: Eight Insights Wanda B. Knight choice when we avoid topics of social justice in the curriculum. In each case, we have made a judgment about the value of equity and social justice. 4. Change Change is unavoidable. Therefore, i t is best to effect change (as chan ge m akers) rather than let change affec t u s (as change takers). 5. Success and Failure Failure is feedback. When teaching for social justice, we art teachers must give ourselves permission to fail in order to succeed. As babies, we learned to walk by falling. With each failure, we were one step closer to reaching our goal. 6. Perseverance To persevere is to keep trying. It is better to try and fail, rather than fail to try to effect change for social jus- tice. Determination and persistent effort lead to success. 7. Social Networking Isolation can hinder our effort. It is valuable for art teachers to stay ener- gized by developing supportive socia l n etworks with like-minded progres- sive educators who have oriente d their work towards social change and social justice. 8. Responsibility Art teachers have a tremendous respon- sibility. However, our responsibilit y g oes beyond just teaching. We have a responsibility to be agents of change for social justice in our classrooms. Any - thing less, we deny learners opportuni- ties to study past and present social j ustice movements that might offer inspiration that schools and societies can change for the better. We also deny youth the opportunities to advocate for change, and we model apathy in reac - tion to global issues and concerns . These insights were adapted from the following: Knight, W. B. "Just preparing art teachers or preparing JUST art teach - ers: Teacher education for democracy a nd social justice." In K. Tavin & C. Ballengee Morris (Eds.), Stand(ing) Up for a Change: Voices of Arts Educators (pp. 28– 36). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association, 2013. A L L L E V E L S

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