SchoolArts Magazine

February 2018

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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Page 26 of 54

22 FEBRUARY 2018 SchoolArts A D V O C A C Y I had a professor in college who, when introducing himself, didn't say, "I teach English." Instead he said, "I teach students." Throughout my eleven years of teaching, I have filtered my advocacy through this lens. I am certainly an art advocate, but my advocacy focuses first on my individual students. Advocacy in the Art Studio Since my advocacy in the art studio focuses on the individual, I work dili- gently to create a classroom climate that allows students to become more authentic versions of themselves. • I give students permission to be themselves, to change, to ask ques- tions, and to share opinions. When- ever possible, I meet them as equals. • I give up control. Of course, I still model and guide my students. I maintain disciplined chaos in the studio. Anytime I can give students choices or make them decide, I do. • I allow for not knowing as a means of knowledge production. Embrac- ing uncertainty and ambivalence opens up new possibilities. • I encourage negative capability as a life skill. Negative capability is, according to poet John Keats, when someone is "capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, [and] doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." Life is unpredictable and the world ever-changing. • I utilize varying learning modali - ties. The variety allows students to be who they are as they use Becoming Who The Are Kate E. Schaffer their skills and knowledge to pro- duce art and ideas. • I design projects and discussions where students may grow and discover . • I do not allow product to overshadow process. This is critical in allowing students to become who they are. Studio Skills Studio time is a time for experimen- tation and innovation. Awkward- ness is welcome and mistakes are encouraged. Students think less and feel more. Empathy and questioning become essential skills. Students build relationships. They make art as whole, unique, and dynamic humans who feel, think, create, and are. Advocacy Beyond the Art Studio Art educators raise visibility for art and promote an inclusive culture at their schools and in their commu- nities. They secure funding for art supplies, activities, and experiences. They seek out opportunities that allow students to extend their reach beyond the classroom. I advocate for my students beyond the art studio when I cre- ate opportunities for them to have m eaningful art-related experiences. We recently welcomed feminist artist Jaymee Harvey Willms into our studio. Students learned about Jaymee's process and artwork. Stu - dents are now grappling with issues o f equality and memory as they create sculptures that help them better understand how their experi - ences have shaped them. Students a re becoming who they are. Kate E. Schaffer is a Milwaukee-based artist. keschafferart@ W E B L I N K I am certainl n art advocate, but m advocac ocuses first on m individual students.

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