Chelsey Ann Yingling
Undergraduate BFA 2D Studio and Art Education
College of Fine Arts, University of Arizona
“If the image of a refrigerator door covered with children’s drawings continues to be the public’s image of arts education, it will remain in the margins.”
Elliot W. Eisner, 2002
The Arts and the Creation of Mind
Eisner’s statement is essential to my philosophy of teaching in and through the visual arts. It is my conviction that the visual arts are subjects worth knowing. For this main reason, my mission in education is to advocate for the arts and get out of that “refrigerator box.” I want to design my lessons to be engaging and challenging by making connections to various areas of learning and real life experiences. In my future art classroom students will not only learn how to make art, but also learn how art has been made, and how it relates to their lives through historical, multicultural and interdisciplinary perspectives. Finding meaning in artworks throughout history and from diverse traditions affords broad learning opportunities for students from varying social, economic, and cultural backgrounds.
Students should be provided a non-critical learning environment that values cultural and social differences, recognizes divergent learning styles, and encourages deep thinking and better cognition. I place a great deal of importance on relating closely with my students. I feel strongly that being a highly visible part of their school life enhances that relatability. I wish to make a point to be involved in my school community beyond the art room. In practical terms, my teaching approach is one of modeling, coaching, and self-reflection. It is impossible for me to have all the answers and to be everything to every student. When students witness an instructor searching for answers along with them, their own learning processes are validated. This tandem-learning environment creates (in my opinion) a healthy classroom that encourages students to be risk-taking team players rather than passive bystanders of their own education.
The making of art is encouraged and enhanced by introducing new media and techniques into a lesson. I strive to allow students as many opportunities to work with a wide range of modern and contemporary art media: painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, installation and performance art. I see art education as a continuous learning experience: through research, student achievement, and community involvement. By blending trends in visual culture, promoting diversity acceptance, weaving historical and contemporary artists into lesson plans, and recognizing individual abilities I believe I can have a balanced and successful art curriculum.
Students will also learn how to appreciate and evaluate artworks—my lessons will incorporate individual and group reflection, assessment and critique. I believe young students are open to criticism but they may be sensitive to peer reactions and conscious of individualism and being labeled as different from the crowd. I want my students to explore their uniqueness, accept being an individual and celebrate it instead of hiding within the crowd. Additionally, I hope to have chances to encourage students to apply for artistic opportunities outside of school, by giving them information and by helping them edit their statements and proposals. This gives them exposure to the practical and technical problems that artists face.
As my teaching career begins, I endeavor to provide an important balance for my students in their art experiences, a balance between the joys of learning and creating, and the confidence and self-knowledge derived from critical, creative thinking and flexible decision-making that is so vital to the art-making process. As a teaching artist, I hope to stimulate student’s imaginations while nurturing their creativity and artistic interests, not only with art instruction but also with life experience—a teacher who is a highly accessible, a vital part of a school community, and who helps her students create art that is destined for someplace bigger then the fridge.