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Why I wish to teach art.

My name is Heidi Sue Walker, and I wish to teach art to students in the public schools. Well, you might ask, why do you want to teach art and what do you think art is? And who are you, that you should be able to teach children?

I will try to answer your questions.

First, why do I wish to teach? And, then, why teach art? Lord Brougham said, "Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave." I believe that. I believe that education can change the course of lives and of nations. I wish to educate and care for each child as a person important, valuable, exceptional--and to know that in that child lives the future, my future. I hope to challenge children to leave the safety of what they know in order to risk the pain of the unknown and, thus, hopefully, grow. Because in each small step one child takes forward into the future, into knowledge, into growth, my world and your world--the whole world--gets a little better.

So, now it is, I hope, clear why I wish to teach. As to why I wish to teach art, that is tied up with what I think art is and what I feel art can do.

For me art is about caring, about thinking and feeling and then putting that thought and feeling carefully into an object or an action. That then speaks to others not only that someone was here, but that someone cared enough about something to make it beautiful. So, for me, anything done with care: be it a book, a painting, a car or a life, is art. Because of that caring, art can come from any time, any place, and with some effort on our part, we can come to understand why a person so far away made this object and, with that understanding, enjoy it all the more.

I feel that art holds a great deal for its students. With it one learns about humanity, starting with the human one knows best, oneself. You learn about what you see when you look at the world around you; that the world you see may not be the world others see. So you find, again, that you are different, exceptional, unique from every other person that has ever lived. And yet you are alike enough to understand the work of a person half a world and 1000 years away. Within art you learn about people through the things they took time and care to make and you can come to see that people can, in truth, be very, very good.

So that is why I wish to teach art-that and a hundred other reasons too many and too personal to write. But why me, why should I get to teach so magical and so important a subject to children?

I am not a professional artist. I have never had a one-woman show or sold a work of art. But I am a lover of art, in its creation and its long and wonderful history. I am in truth an art historian at heart. I love the works of others' hands far better than the work of my own. If I am to be a professional artist at all, my works will be my teaching and my masterpieces my students. But I do know art, its creators and its creations. I know, too, the wonder and pain of creation first hand. I understand that something great, something wonderful and powerful does not come quickly. To have greatness takes time, lots of time. So I know the great thing that is a child must not be rushed.

Again, I say I wish to teach art in the public schools. I wish to care for and help children to understand themselves and others through the works they have made, with care and thought and feelings. I want for them an understanding of the wonder that is themselves and is the world.

I wish to change the world; I wish to teach.

This mission statement was written by Heidi Sue Walker while a student in an art education course taught by Marilyn Weisensee at the College at New Paltz, State University of New York.
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Title Annotation:Focus: Student View
Author:Walker, Heidi Sue
Publication:School Arts
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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