The Teaching Artist Journal: A place for teaching artists to connect, share and build.

The Teaching Artist Journal is a print and online quarterly devoted to the work and thought of teaching artists and all those working at the intersection of the arts and learning. TAJ is published by Routledge and is edited and produced under the auspices of the Office of Academic Research at Columbia College Chicago.

The mission of The Teaching Artist Journal:

-To advance effective, innovative practice by teaching artists and to document such practice.

-To serve as a vital, international forum, a practical and theoretical tool, and a point of connection for teaching artists of all kinds.

-To advocate for the interests of teaching artists.

-To forge new connections and new methods of communication among arts educators.

-To share the artistic, educational and social insights gained by teaching artists with the broader fields of education and arts practice.

-To advocate for access to arts experience for all people.

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From the Resource Exchange section: Edited by Becca Barniskis:

Practitioners Respond to Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education

Remarks introduced, compiled, and edited by Becca Barniskis, Barbara Cox, & Lori Brink

Since its publication, Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education[i] has created lively debate among arts education advocates. Based on research carried out in two schools in Boston, the book identifies eight “Studio Habits of Mind” that visual arts teachers intend their students to learn and three classroom structures that teachers use to teach these habits.

The authors of the study argue that before we can claim that learning in the arts leads to success in other academic areas, we must first identify what it is that students do learn in an arts classroom. Only then can we conduct meaningful conversations about the benefits of arts education. This call to slow down and examine the value of learning in the arts has been interpreted by some as contrary to the aims of arts-integration efforts in our schools. They fear that backing away from claims that the arts improve students’ overall academic performance will undermine efforts to keep arts in the schools. We wanted to look at this research in terms of student learning, period.

This article is not about a controversy among arts advocates. In fact the article not even really about the book itself (see TAJ issue 6(3) pp. 236-242 for Nick Rabkin’s fine review).  Instead, it aims to make visible the practice of teaching artists around the United States who have been intentionally using the Studio Habits of Mind in their work with teachers and students. How are teaching artists using the Studio Habits of Mind in the field? What are they finding out? What questions surface? It is, in fact, a continuation of the research first carried out so rigorously by Lois Hetland and her colleagues.

[Full article in TAJ 7(3)]

From the Research Review Section, edited by Judy Hornbacher:

A review of

“A Conceptual Structure of Visual Metaphor”

Studies in Art Education, 2006, 47(3), 229-247.

By Daniel Serig

Reviewed by: Kristin Baxter, Ed.D.

In his 2006 article in Studies in Art Education, Daniel Serig poses the question, “Is there a conceptual structure to the creation of visual metaphors by artists that closely aligns with the cognitive view of metaphoric thinking?” Unpacking this complex question and the researcher’s response to it requires significant work and commitment on the part of the reader, yet such efforts are greatly rewarded. In preparing a review of this article, my goal was to extract the gems of insight and understanding (and there are many) from this research and pose new meanings of them for teaching artists.

Serig frames the purpose of his research with Eisner’s (2002) observation that it [the cognitive consequence of engagement in the arts] is a way of thinking about the aims of art education that is still trying to secure a firm foothold in the larger educational community. The arts have long been perceived as being “affective” rather than cognitive, easy not tough, soft not hard, simple not complex. (p.35)

Serig responds this conundrum with his study that, “aims to help gain that firmer foothold in the educational community reflecting art practices as complex, cognitive endeavors that generate meaning” (p. 233).  The ambitious research project that he describes in this article, which is based on his dissertation research at Teachers College Columbia University, certainly does establish that firmer foothold in the educational community with his conceptual structure of a visual metaphor. Though how we, as readers, arrive at his conclusions and implications is a complex yet deeply rewarding journey.

[Full article in TAJ 7(3)]

Be Careful What You Wish For: Reality and a National Artist Corps

From the Newsbreak section, edited by Laura Reeder

The buzz over an Obama Administration corps of artists to participate in the national public service community was loud and controversial during the first months of 2009. While most artists imagine federal support to be a font of opportunities for their careers, many others have had justifiable concern over the real benefits. Throughout the presidential campaign, there were small bubbles of excitement stirring when the Obama platform for the arts listed an “Artists Corps” as a high priority.

As Congress began to assign dollars to regular and recovery legislation for 2010, the Artists Corps took on many shapes in the hearts of artists. Some envisioned a WPA (Works Progress Administration)-style inclusion of artists in community rebuilding.  Arlene Goldbard, one of the designers of the model suggested that it be titled the CCC (Communities Creating Culture) in a thoughtful echoing of the other Roosevelt corps.

The primary goal from the Obama arts platform was to include the teaching of the arts to low-income and youth-at-risk populations in a model that is similar to or linked with AmeriCorps. This offers young people the opportunity to work for their first years out of college at subsistence wages in exchange for some tuition support and resume-building experience. The Music National Service Initiative is one of the current proposals for community service.

Existing, professional, teaching artists may be thrilled to see teaching artistry as a front-line topic. They may also appreciate the new energy that young artists will bring to the profession. Advocacy organizations might see some revenue for training and they will certainly benefit from the legislative and social advancement of the arts in education as a priority. They may also want to prepare for some of the challenges that have been circulated on the airwaves around this topic.

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TA’s Leading Professional Development for Teachers: What Teaching Artists say they Need

TA’s Leading Professional Development for Teachers: What Teaching Artists say they Need

Rosalind M. Flynn

The Kennedy Center’s Rosalind Flynn takes an in-depth look at a unique program that prepares TA’s to train teachers in arts education practice.

As arts and education organizations that provide professional development opportunities for educators have found, teaching artists are a rich resource to tap into for teacher training. Amy L. Duma and Lynne B. Silverstein’s article “Achieving Greater Impact: Developing the Skills of Teaching Artists to Lead Professional Development for Teachers” (2008) detailed the Kennedy Center’s professional learning for teaching artists who lead workshops for teachers. This article builds on theirs by sharing the thoughts of teaching artists involved in learning experiences focused on building their capacity to develop and deliver effective teacher workshops. An examination of their perspectives on their own learning and development resulted in this article’s eight recommendations for other organizations and individuals who design similar training experiences.

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Learning to Love This More – Mentorship for the New Teaching Artist

Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

TA and arts educator Amanda Lichtenstein examines the Urban Gateways model of PD mentorship and reveals a range of insights on how we can effectively develop the skills of new TA’s.

Year after year, we all return to this work with different needs and perspectives. Of all the training and development available for artists, the least attention is currently paid to artists working in schools, prisons, parks, and community centers. This is a call for arts organizations and centers to more seriously consider multi-tiered, life-long professional development of teaching artists in all contexts. Every time we create opportunities for reflection, we are inventing the field and are hopefully addressing the status quo, disrupting it through practices rooted in artistic process and collaborative brilliance.

Are we really learning to love this work & world more? What can this work look like if we decide to put our collective energy into participating actively in our collective development as artists and educators? In the spirit of Miranda July and the idea of participation with the everyday, what are the seductive and productive assignments we can offer one another to provoke new thinking and feeling about this work? [Full article in TAJ 7(3)]

Flying into America

Jesl Xena Rae Cruz

Veteran Special Education teacher and arts integrationist Jesl Cruz reflects on her Filipino roots and how the arts can help to shatter myths about Special Education students.

I flew into America from the Southeast Asian continent, the Pearl of the Orient – the Philippines – the land where I was born, with my eyes wide open and my mouth closed.  I walked into a new world beyond my motherland, excited about the fact that I was in America—the land where Special Education was born[JN1] ; the land where, I was taught when growing up, everything was born. I was excited and enthusiastic about formulating individualized education programs for each of my students.  I looked forward to fully practicing prescriptive and diagnostic teaching and assessment in my very own Special Education classroom in an inner-city public elementary school.  I was all-set to make my university professors proud, and let my Philippine Special Education training shine through.

I have always found it fascinating to learn about education trends, research and practice in the American setting. When I first arrived in the U.S., I thought that in American public schools, school-wide and district-wide collaboration existed, Special Education and allied medical professions were closely interrelated, research projects were funded, and research findings were made public. The Philippine Educational System as a whole was centered on nation-building, the fostering patriotism, honor and academic excellence. Education was our passport to realizing our dreams, either locally or off-shore. In America, I have realized that success in education is seen through continuous change.  I am delighted by the fact I’ve been able to merge the traditional, and more static beliefs of the Philippine education system with the constant changes that are typical of the American education system. Change and tradition combined result in progress.