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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The artist/teacher : balancing a dual role Linn, Rosemary Moulson


Many art teachers in the public schools desire to create their own art work and to develop their talents in art. They have a need to express and to communicate as artists, and they believe that the creative art teacher has a lot to offer the students. However, they are aware that lack of time and energy, due to the demands of the classroom, hinders the development and growth of their skills. In an attempt to discover how the roles of teacher and artist can be reconciled and balanced, I have examined, through a series of interviews, the lifestyles of a small group of ten artist/teachers who do manage to produce, in their chosen crafts, on a continuous basis in spite of heavy teaching loads. The purpose of this thesis has been twofold: to investigate some of the philosophies, working methods and organizational skills of these creative people as a means of encouragement for those art teachers, including myself, who wish to be more productive and, secondly, to discover some of the effects of the teacher's creative activities upon classroom students. I have attempted to "test out" some of these methods by changing some of my own work habits and schedules and by altering my own studio facilities. The problem of lack of energy does not assume large proportions with the group under study. The artist/teacher often derives energies through the excitement of the discovery of form and image, from successes in the art field and from the deliberate imposition of exhibit and commission deadlines placed upon themselves. Once deeply involved in their art work, finding energy to create does not become a factor. Many in the group are aware that stress drains energy, and they emphasize the positive effects of exercise, relaxation and diet. The teachers in the study are keenly aware of the limitations of time, and, many of their ideas for paintings, tapestries and clay pieces come from the drawing books and notebooks which they usually have with them. These idea sources are diaries for future reference when working time is more available. Once under way on an art project, many of the group are self-disciplined, reserving definite times for working. Depending upon school scheduling, some work in the classroom may be possible during spare periods or at noon hours. Many plan ahead for vacation time by ordering and preparing materials in advance. Because of the time factor, some artist/teachers choose to work in technically uncomplicated media. Most teachers in the group have set up a separate studio area where materials are at hand and some sort of isolation is possible. All of the teachers emphasized the importance of the support and co-operation of family members and friends. Some stressed the role of the principal whose support is important for the art teacher as well as for the status of the visual arts in the school. All of the artist/teachers in the group suggested that showing art work with peers in a group exhibit or working toward a one-man show are positive, and possible, goals for the art teachers. Balancing the dual roles of artist and teacher does require dedication, but when interwoven as part of a lifestyle the roles are not necessarily viewed as separate. All of the artists interviewed felt that the artist/ teacher's creative efforts influenced their works in the classroom in a positive way. The sharing, with students, of image search, of planning compositions, rendering, of solutions sought to problems encountered, and of critical review of one's work is a good avenue toward encouraging exciting art experiences for students in the classroom. The teacher who is also developing his skills in art may maintain some humility and sympathy for the problems and frustrations of his students. The art teacher who wants to develop talents and skills to a higher degree needs time. School boards, due to declining enrollment and more flexible scheduling, are currently encouraging half-time or shared teaching. The art teacher who can manage such an arrangement can develop talents working half-time, returning later, refreshed and bringing new ideas and experiences to the classroom. Allowance should be made in staffing schedules to enable teachers to develop their interests, abilities and talents. More study needs to be initiated regarding the problems of harmonizing the roles of teacher and artist, and of the effects and influences of these roles on students in the art class. Maintaining one's artistic self while teaching should be a goal of art education and should be encouraged.

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