Monday, February 25, 2008

How to kill the love of art....

One of my least pleasant job duties--fortunately not one that I have to carry out very often--is to evaluate the work of instructors-in-trouble: teachers with poor classroom management strategies, difficulties communicating with students, and, in some cases, an insufficient grasp of the material they're supposed to be teaching. Usually I observe writing and literature teachers; today, though, I sat in on an introductory art history course.

When a writing teacher doesn't know what s/he is doing--and it's clear that s/he hasn't benefited from the coaching that has taken place before I came on the scene--part of me feels angry. Good writing instruction is *so* important to the success of college students. I *hate* to see students being cheated out of a decent writing course.

I wasn't prepared for my response to the very, very weak teaching I witnessed today: in addition to feeling angry, I felt sad and tired. The teacher I observed today read directly from the textbook and still managed to get basic history facts wrong. Worse than that, the teacher asked only yes/no and fill-in-the-blank questions, and created no opportunities for students to talk about what they were seeing.

The one thought that kept coming to me was that this was probably the only art course that most of those students would ever get to take. What if this soporific, misleading semester completely dampens their interest in looking at, thinking about, or making art?


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