“Just an Art Teacher” Isn’t Doing Us Any Justice!
Have you ever been at a dinner party, a baby shower, or at book club when a conversation erupts concerning occupations? One guest talks about being a financial planner, another details the daily grind of some medical profession and then the spot light turns to you. Caught, like a deer in the headlights, you mutter something along the lines of “I am just an art teacher.” You get the standard responses “Isn’t that fun/cute/precious!” “I bet the kids love coming to play/finger-paint/make macaroni necklaces with you!” “Summers off! Must be nice! What do you do with all your free time?” Or, even worse, the conversation segues into you helping pick out a paint chip for the bathroom. Ugh!
When you arrive home later that evening, your mind is reeling with a thousand things you should have said.
You do SO much more than “just teach art!” Art teaches creativity, problem solving and application of real-life skills! Art class combines visual literacy with cross-curricular connections in every field while also teaching life skills like empathy and meaning. Students design and create self-portraits, paint landscapes, and draw from direct observation (and that is just in Kindergarten!). Millions of employees in this country work in a creative field. Want to talk about job development? Creative minds are the future of this nation! By the way, I rarely (if ever) use finger-paint and have not once made a macaroni necklace! Ahhh!
As art teachers, we are VERY passionate about the arts. We have to be. This field is unlike any other in that it constantly needs to be advocated for, especially in the current economic downturn. As budgets are thinning and spending is cut we, now more than ever, need to unite to keep the value of our programs clear and support strong. You can help this cause. I am not asking that you run for office, create a picket sign or burn your bra, I am asking that you take a few simple steps to advocate for Art Education.
3 Simple Steps to Start Advocating Today!
Step 1: Create a goal. Why are you teaching art? What do you believe in?
Step 2: Stay informed. What current research supports your goal?
Step 3: Spread the word. Write down 2-3 sentences that sum up your goals and beliefs, with a sprinkling of hard facts and MEMORIZE IT! The next time you are asked what you do, you will be prepared to share your insight and dazzle your peers. We can all help to spread the world and together, we will be heard! To learn more about advocacy check out AOE’s new Advocating for the Arts class this November.
How do you respond when you get comments about your profession as an art teacher?
Share with us your 2-3 sentence advocacy plug in the comments!