Gina L. Wenger
Education is constantly changing. Teachers are faced with experiences that we may feel unable to confront or ill equipped to handle. But, in the end that is what we try to do. Instinctively, we turn to the experiences we have had or to our families, peers, and students. Through the critical exploration of these experiences, education becomes individualized and meaningful. It is for this reason that I describe myself as a feminist pedagogue. Feminist pedagogy has grown out of the empowering concepts of critical theory and emphasizes the use of student knowledge in classroom learning. Student experiences are vital to the learning process.
As a former public school art teacher, I believe art education can be an extraordinary discipline. The art classroom is a space that is different from every other space in the school. Art contains a set of disciplines that may easily integrate into all other disciplines and that opens doors to exploring histories, theories, and philosophies. By helping students to make those connections and to learn more about themselves, the art classroom not only broadens their knowledge but it also gives students the tools necessary to express their ideas. Art teaches different ways of seeing as well as different ways of creating. It is an avenue for dealing with conflicts and solving problems, learning about ourselves and learning about our world.
As an art educator in higher education, I believe I must work hard to prepare my students for the constantly changing world of teaching. In order to do this, I must not only keep my research contemporary and relevant, but I must teach my students to see themselves as artists and researchers. The future of art education must include teachers who see themselves as artists who understand all that this entails and who know that in order to teach art, the teacher must first learn all that they can so that they may share that knowledge in a meaningful way.