“I dream of painting and then I paint my dreams.” Van Gogh knew that visual art, like music, drama, and literature, is a form of expression. Through this expression, I expect my students to communicate ideas, thoughts, emotions and “dreams” that they may not be able to otherwise. Art not only provides an emotional release, but it also builds creativity, individuality, problem solving, and self esteem. Moreover, ART has the unique ability to grab a student’s interest and promote interdisciplinary learning that teaches all styles of learners.
When planning my art lessons, I feel like a chef combining ingredients from a mixture of philosophical recipes. First of all, I follow the philosophy of Project -Based Learning (PBL). Providing my students an in-depth and rigorous project guarantees that they are cognitively challenged. I combine the PBL philosophy with a multi-disciplinary method known as Discipline Based Art Education (DBAE). According to DBAE, students should experience art in four disciplines. The first discipline is art production. We accomplish this by designing and creating art projects. Secondly, we use art criticism to respond to and make judgments about natural and man-made objects. This discipline encourages critical thinking and problem solving. Next, I incorporate art history to promote knowledge and appreciation for others through art, culture, and heritage. Finally, aesthetics encourages the understanding of art, culture, people, and self through judgment, differentiation, assessment, and hypothesis. The combination of these four disciplines along with PBL helps to motivate my students to not just make art, but to analyze, discuss, appreciate, and interpret their art assignment.
To add more educational value to my lessons, I sprinkle these PBL and DBAE art lessons with other subjects such as math, science, history, writing, and poetry. By creating lessons with interdisciplinary elements, I provide my students with the ability to make connections between concepts and across subjects. For example, I regularly incorporate math through tessellations, facial proportion, and the rule of thirds. For science, we study color theory with prisms and inventors like Rube Goldberg and Leonardo da Vinci. For Language Arts, we write poetry and journal responses regarding our artwork. This method is also beneficial to classroom teachers because it reinforces and collaborates what is taught and learned in their classrooms as well. When a lesson is complete, my students have a better understanding of the world, vocabulary, materials, and themselves. My hope is for my students to see that art is a combination of all aspects of life.
My philosophical “recipe” also includes engaging all my students’ senses by allowing them to use their own personal learning style. In order for my students to fully grasp any assignment or concept, it is essential to present the lesson in a manner that is effective for each student. My art lessons are presented cognitively, kinesthetically, visually, and verbally. By allowing my students the opportunity to critique, create, explore, and articulate, I not only motivate them, but I also create a higher level thinking lesson that reaches them all. By using each of their learning styles, I create an atmosphere that is comfortable for their questions, exploration, and expansion of thought and individual creativity.
I realize that very few of my students will go on to become a professional “artist.” My ultimate goal when planning my art lessons is to teach my students to live a happier, fuller life and to be culturally literate. I feel that my multi-philosophical recipe sets a tone of respect for each student’s creative process and towards each other’s differences. I feel that by setting this tone, an openness is formed for them to use their creativity, problem solving skills, and collaboration. My hope is that I have provided my students the expertise to “paint their dreams!”