About ten years ago when I decided to become an art teacher, I wanted to work in the front lines championing art as a vital part of education in public schools. My aim was to prepare students to understand and actively participate in discussions and projects concerning visual literacy and democracy through art. I have alway embraced the teaching of multicultural education as an inherent and valid component of education for all students across the socioeconomic divide. Recently, I enrolled in a Master’s program and find myself back at the beginning where it all started. Somehow, my intention to include social justice in my pedagogy dwindled when the demands of motherhood and choosing the right school for my son led me away from the trenches and onto greener pastures where I am able to focus on myself, my family and have access to top notch professional development and resources made possible by sizable endowments. This blog is my breadcrumb trail back to find the fuse that lit the spark. Will it lead me full circle or take me on a parallel journey where I can pursue similar goals with a different population of students? These issues are important for everyone regardless of race or socioeconomic background because teachers have the responsibility to teach tolerance, multiculturalism and social justice in all schools if they are to prepare future citizens for the realities of co-existing peacefully in an increasingly diverse culture.
No Child Left Behind and the events of 9/11 have contributed in homogenizing curriculum in the name of standardized tests and rallying a united front as a nation. This has failed to teach students how to be active learners or to respect individual and societal diversity. The turmoil and failure of No Child Left Behind lends a sense of urgency for teachers now more than ever. And now that our country has voted for “the audacity to hope” for education reform, it gives me renewed energy to pursue my own search for that initial spark that brought me to the teaching profession. And while I wait with bated breath to see if the new Education Secretary will overhaul No Child Left Behind, I will teach lessons that highlight multicultural perspectives and how there is always a common thread in storytelling, art, history and religion among different cultures.
It is difficult to talk about art and art history without including artists from different countries. Here is an interesting article about how curators and art critics are having to redefine contemporary works and the meaning of American art in the 21st century. With technology and globalization, artists collaborate internationally and are no longer bound by geography . http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/11/26/art.globalization/