When artists think about the phrase “art education” what usually comes to mind are art activities and art classes in the elementary schools, a major in art or an art school education, or maybe taking a technique or technical class, like studying watercolor or oil painting with an established artist or taking a junior college class to learn an art-related computer application.

It may also conjure the long self-education that comes from trial-and-error art making, the best education of all. What comes to mind less often is the notion of them teaching art classes. There are several reasons why artists tend to dismiss this idea of out hand, even though it might serve them to teach some classes.

The first reason is that life is busy enough and hard enough as is and that trying to do art and manage the rest of life and add in teaching feels like just too much to attempt.

The second reason is that they may not feel advanced enough or accomplished enough to teach others, feeling as they may that they are still learning, still making mistakes, and only marginally happy with their own efforts.

Third, they may consider their space inadequate. Their space may seem inadequate even for them to work in, let alone teach others in it; or it may seem adequate enough for their purposes but inadequate as a teaching space.

Fourth, they may worry about the presence of their own work in the teaching space. Will their students be judging them? Will they have to hide their own work when students come over? How will the presence of their work affect the teaching relationship?

Fifth, they may simply have no idea how to begin: where to advertise, what to teach, what to charge, whether to provide individual lessons or run a group, whether to do a workshop or a class rather than give individual lessons, and so on.

Give each of these five some thought. Are they holding you back from teaching art? In answer to the first, you might announce: “I can do it simply and fit it in nicely.” In answer to the second, you might declare, “I have something to offer.” In answer to the third, fourth and fifth you might exclaim, “Gee, I bet I can figure that out!”

If you think that teaching art might serve you, both practically and emotionally, find your own answers to these five challenges. Next week we’ll look at how you can get started teaching. Talk to you then!


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