Last week was teacher appreciation week. Here in Texas, it is also standardized testing week, which I think is incredibly ironic. I received this email from a student who transferred to another district halfway through the year. I was touched by what she said, but I also thought there was something really important. She lists all the things she learned from me. None of them are art skills. She doesn’t talk about facial proportions or contrast; she talks about life skills that will help her no matter what she does with her future. That’s the importance of student-centered art education. I offer this letter as a proof of concept of sorts.
Hi Mr. Clumpner,
I know I’m no longer one of your students but it’s teacher appreciation week and I would like to say thank you. In the time I had you as a teacher you helped me grow as an artist, as a student, and as a person. You taught me that time is key, granted, you aren’t the first person to tell me, but you were the first to really put into perspective for me and I have applied it to everything. You taught me that help is okay and that I shouldn’t be afraid to use my resources, and I still ask for help from people in your class because they know what I do. You taught me that it’s okay to work outside the lines and interpret things in a crazy way and not to be ashamed or embarrassed in what I took from it and what I saw or heard. You showed me that starting something without an idea or plan can produce something amazing and it’s okay to be unsure. You have taught me many more things that I have applied to not just to art but my other classes as well. Thank you, very much, for everything you have taught me and for pointing me in the right direction artistically.