My art classroom is rooted in critical pedagogy and emergent curriculum. Through exploration, play, and discovery, students learn that questions often lead to more questions, and that supposed failure leads to new knowledge. In the art classroom, as long as we are doing, making, and forever questioning, learning is happening. I believe the art classroom is critical in developing these skills necessary to engage and persist through challenges for every level of learner.
I begin my class with a unit on the re-discovery of the concept of “home” and “studio” that requires students assess their personal needs, both personal and for production. This journey helps me see the world through my students’ eyes and interests, while simultaneously encouraging students to become aware of their own needs to feel brave enough to become the creators, thinkers, makers, and doers they wish to be now and in their futures. Later, I challenge them to consider ways in which they have agency in the creation of spaces that allow them to create. After this activity, students often to rediscover natural and suppressed skills of play and surprise, as well as develop the critical observational skills that establish the groundwork of my art curricula.
For example, after assessing the items they can carry with them that help them be productive, whether in the classroom or outside of it, students develop preparedness skills necessary for future planning. They then apply this knowledge through a series of projects where they will develop “tool kits” they can carry with them to be productive creators or thinkers wherever they find themselves. They will also explore ways in which they can create a space in which they can feel their most productive through a variety of artistic and professional techniques, such as concept design, prototyping and place-based art. These skills can be applied to any subject, any interest, inside, outside, and beyond the classroom. After this series of activities, I guide them to question the environmental, historical, cultural, and sociopolitical forces that drive survival in today’s city. Simultaneously, we also discuss what it means to be creative and a creator, and how we define our identity through our practice.
My critical art pedagogy encourages students to explore and question the world around them. Centered on problem-based learning and contemporary art methods, my teaching strategies introduce students to forms of everyday activism, collaboration, and exploration in their neighborhoods. Merging art making with inquiry develops lifelong, self-directed learning.