Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sheppard & Price: Art Teachers

To read the interviews of both Donald Sheppard and Jean Price as art educators was more than interesting, to hear their separate views, not only in their aesthetic approach to the basic information, but also their personal level of interest in the arts. The theory behind their craft and a shared vision of what they inherently want students to walk away from their class with, being better people in the end, was thrilling. Both teachers were seen to wear many hats outside of their profession, exhibiting their personal determination through their work ethics, passing their passion for the possibilities of art on to their students.
While Sheppard’s roots come from a “practicing” artist background of what would now be termed as graphic design, he was able to use that important knowledge in his classroom. Also, through his involvement with his church community, he was able to gain valuable insight to the needs and abilities of the youth around him, “from the fact that he really cares about the kids, and they know it” (Sheppard, 4) which led to fostering respect from and among his students.
Price, though a self-proclaimed “non-practicing” artist, has similarly brought with her a charisma for helping students to “understand that forms are a means of communication, that they represent something beyond themselves.” (Price, 9) She engages in conversations that lead to a better understanding of art, “addressing line quality, composition, value, forms, textures, and so on,” (Price, 7), trying to reveal the misconceptions and increase the appreciation of art in every day life.
Sheppard realizes the embedding emphasis of moral values that the art room provides, not only in the crafting of the product, but of sharing, cooperative learning, time management and respect for one another, that “they’re going to have to find a way to get along” (Sheppard, 8), but does he realize the impact that his personal life lends to the way his classroom is run, the effects of his temperament because of his involvement with family and community through the church and his being a pillar and role model as pastor? He has stated that it seems to help with discipline issues.
“They’re motivated because they love art” (Price, 4), but could that be fostered from the teacher’s knowledge of the expanse of the profession beyond the classroom walls, the value that is placed in opening a closed mind to new possibilities? The best inference that I could make would point to the affirmative in both cases. They holistically seem to care about the individual.
Sheppard and Price’s lives established a lack of information about the arts as a whole and the careers that could be sought out in art, where the vast amount of possibilities were not expounded upon. One can only surmise where their passion for teaching art comes from: to help future generations know that “It’s not that you have to be able to draw. It’s that you have the ability to see” (Sheppard, 9) the world in its entirety. 
Read: Anderson, Tom. "Donald Sheppard: Shepherd to the Community." Real Lives: Art Teachers and the Cultures of Schools. 92-112. Chicago: Heinemann, 2000.
Anderson, Tom. "Jean Price: Changing with the Times." Real Lives: Art Teachers and the Cultures of Schools. Chicago: Heinemann, 2000. 45-60.  

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