IN AN online interaction, I was asked by a practicing university instructor what strategies should be used in teaching visual arts that can enhance the skills of the students.
It took me sometime to respond as I was hesitant at first and so I told her to learn and try to understand what kind of art forms, crafts or type of engagement the students are into. I am not sure if the young ones are still into hip-hop, breakdance or ballet for dance or computer graphics or gaming for those who are creatively inclined to visual arts.
Today, there is 3D printing where computer designed models can actually be formed in a solid state like that of a chiseled stone.
I also had doubts if there are students who still prefer painting on canvasses or they are more likely to create images using computers now that even smartphones can be used to create complex graphics.
The second question asked is on the kind of strategies that can be developed to help non-visual art teachers in teaching visual arts.
I responded to the instructor telling her to forget about reading art books and studying works of masters but rather, it is best for them to visit art exhibits, browse “what’s cool in today’s art” from the net or find ways to talk to artists in their area.
Engage young artists in informal conversation to understand their interests and even goals as part of the community. They can also visit social media pages or accounts of artists and when in Baguio, I advised her to drop by the Bookends book shop and most likely, she can meet young artists and members of Pasakalye art group.
The third question that I responded to is on what competencies non-visual art teachers should developed.
I simply said that teachers should listen and understand artist’s work and emotions with an open mind. I explained we are either left or right brained unless we are geniuses and if a teacher is logically inclined with background in mathematics and physics, they should not openly react with the work of artists and criticize their works.
Artists are more on emotional quotient than intelligence quotient as they express with their emotions rather than rationalize things with scientific and mathematic configurations and proportions.
As to how should these competencies be developed and what specific trainings could help the teachers meet such competencies, I again responded vaguely and without exact answer.
Mastery of art does not require an MA or a PhD as it takes an artist years if not lifetime of engagement with a specific art discipline to be considered competent.
I can see the plight of non-Bachelor of Fine Arts teachers handling classes in public school’s Special Program in the Arts (SPA) like animation, music, dance, visual communication, visual arts and the like, and I can only suggest a crash-course initiated jointly by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for government educators for a starter.
Both public and private schools can also invite guest artist lecturers as I did with Baguio City National High School when Bleccy Piluden of SPA tapped me and my group for a crash course on 3D animation back in 2009 to 2010.
When the SPA programs of DepEd was still in its infancy, we conducted three screen education programs for high school teachers at the National Educators Academy of the Philippines of Teachers Camp with funding from NCCA. That training was geared to let educators understand “Paano ba talaga manood ng pelikula.” Today, we learn filmmaking just by following instructions from online tutors.
On how can a non-visual art teacher improve her teaching strategies to teach visual arts more effectively and efficiently, I honestly gave my opinion based on my experiences.
I firmly believe that coaching art by a non-artist is wrong as I observed several instances during art competitions where I was involved.
A teacher should provide encouragement and moral support and not to influence the creativity of a student. It happened that in an art competition in Baguio on one Nutrition Month art competition, me and my co-judges rated-high an artwork depicting PH map rendered with images of vegetables like cabbage, potato and beans etc.
However in the years that followed, same concept emerged with map illustrated with veggies. I later found out from one contestant that the culprit was the coach who said that such idea is likely to win. Ganern!