Monday, November 15, 2010

Enough About Me

For the past two years or so, ATA blog has been, for me, a sort of diary. Sometimes I get serious and write about the hows and whys and ways in which we teach and my favorite books. Often, I just post links to my favorite music videos and complain about how hard it is to make a dollar and a dream.   The issues I write about arise from my experience as a community-oriented teaching artist, and from my strong belief that art is probably the answer, no matter the question. This blog is advocacy, but it’s also kind of an ongoing art project.

I usually begin by acknowledging the truth, which is hardly ever easy, at least in the beginning. The current reality, for many of us, is that we have full artistic lives, we teach part-time, we probably have inadequate training as teachers (at least in the beginning), and we are, generally, poorly compensated.[1]

We arrive in the classroom through many different doorways, some of us by necessity, some of us because we feel we are called to teach.[2]

We do our work in a variety of contexts—schools, church basements—and, although many of us have advanced degrees in education or art, many of us don’t. Many of us learned, or are learning, how to teach on the job. In a supposedly professional field, this reality raises big questions:

Is the professional artist with no advanced degree, certification or background in education really qualified to teach?

What are the qualities of effective teaching and what basic skills, competencies and understandings should a professional teaching artist possess?

This blog addresses these questions over and over and over again because the terrain keeps presenting new challenges. As Dale Davis, ATA's Executive Director often requests, please contribute to ATA, and email your thoughts, comments and links to things that TAs might use. Your input helps make ATA a resource for teaching artists who, "qualified" or not, are out there doing the work.

Go Teach!

Also: The Trammps - Disco Inferno

[1] Teaching Artist Research Project

[2] Teaching Artists and their Work

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