What roles do museums play in art education advocacy? How is the development of leadership within museums relevant to the art education field as a whole? I have been grappling with these questions on and off since entering the field. As education program coordinator at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, I often wonder where museum educators fit. While attending the National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) convention in the spring of 2014, I had an epiphany of sorts. I have always defined myself as an educator. My classroom just happens to be a museum and my students range from ages 3 to 93 (sometimes younger and sometimes older)! Along those same lines, I have, for a long time, defined myself as a museum educator. I just was not quite sure where the word art fit in. While in San Diego at the convention, surrounded by colleagues from schools and museums from all over the world, I finally began to identify myself as an art museum educator.
With my newfound discovery, I have begun to seek out tools that I can use to be an advocate for art education inside and outside of the classroom. The NAEA recommends brushing up on your advocacy skills by:
· Communicating a clear message
· Being visible to decision makers
· Harnessing your advocacy network
In the non-profit world we are taught to internalize the mission, vision and values of our organization and to always ask ourselves, does this support the mission that we have set? I have the mission of the Arts Center printed and framed on my desk and I use it to guide my interactions within the organization and community. To help myself in advocating for the arts, I am currently pulling information from our national organization to come up with a personal “mission” of sorts to help put into words what art education advocacy means to me. While I continue to work on that, I’ll leave you with this:
Ten Lessons The Arts Teach
1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution
and that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.
One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.
When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.
SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.
Want to learn more? http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy