Date of Award
Art Education (K-12), M.S.Ed.
Art Education Department
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I began this qualitative case study on art activism in the Art Education classroom because I wanted to find the benefits of employing an activist curriculum in an art classroom. I also wanted to learn methods and strategies for this type of teaching. I choose two middle school art teachers and seventy of their sixth and seventh grade students in six of their art classes. Both teachers had been teaching for over five years and said they incorporated social issues and contemporary art, as well as encouraged activism in their art room. In this study, I was an observer participant and collected data through semi-structured interviews with teachers and students, observations, and student artwork. My findings suggested that a critical pedagogy framework allowed for a democratic classroom, with freedom for students to work as a team with the educator; the teacher was not a dictator, but a mentor. A sense of comfort and respect was formed between teacher and student through humor and the teacher “being real,” which refers to the teachers’ honesty, opinion sharing, and openness to allow students into their own personal lives. This type of teaching also addressed social issues through contemporary art, and how, as activists, students can promote change now and in their future as prospering citizens. The teachers at both middle schools also were teaching based on their own strengths, sharing knowledge of certain subject matter, creating their own meaningful artwork they shared with students, and accentuating their strong points as they delivered their lessons and ideas to students. My research supported the above ideas. Uncovering these methods and strategies used to teach in this manner may encourage other teachers to begin to open up to the world of contemporary art, social issues, and activism to benefit student learning.
Toczynski, Vonessa L., "Social Issues: A Qualitative Case Study Revealing the Importance of Activism in the Middle School Art Education Classroom" (2011). Art Education Projects. Paper 4.