“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
As an art history instructor I am committed to my students’ learning and to aid them in the development of their own critical thinking skills. I do this by providing an approachable environment that promotes interaction between students, myself and the material. I encourage this interaction through pair-share activities, study groups, student-directed discussions, and writing assignments as well as audio-visual materials and art gallery visits. I feel that these avenues to learning address the variety of learning styles that students possess as well as reinforce the learning objectives of my course by exposing students to material in various aspects. Although I believe in the individual student’s responsibility to take an active part in their learning, I share this responsibility with her/him.
The community college is an educational institution accessible to a broad population. The students have diverse backgrounds, foundations, and interests as well as family structures and employment interests and goals. Moreover, in general, my students enter my classroom with a required dragging foot. It is my initial and continued enthusiasm that helps build a bridge from student compulsion to appreciation. Once my students’ interest has been sparked, I encourage self-motivation through high but realistic expectations, positive feedback and continual guidance on achieving success within my course. I believe that within my class we are all members of a learning community. I encourage my students to contribute their own experiences, viewpoints and observations to our class. Their diversity helps their peers as well as myself appreciate seeing things differently. This is the crux of my learning objective: to teach my students to broaden the way in which they see the world.
By acknowledging students’ diversity, varied learning styles, and motivations for education, I allow myself to be open and flexible in my teaching style. I want my students to feel as though they are among equals in an engaging classroom that fosters a shared learning environment. I shape this environment through my example. Ultimately my appreciation, respect and enthusiasm for the discipline encourages student emulation. My belief is that by learning art history students develop an appreciation and respect for other cultures, societies and their artifacts. This willingness to be tolerant and appreciative does not confine itself to my class’ parameters; it is a quality that students take with them and can apply throughout their lifelong learning. Furthermore, upon leaving the classroom, my students carry with them the knowledge, vocabulary and appreciation to deliberate about cultures and art objects. I believe that this education strengthens their overall confidence and contributes to their personal success.