Following this school year, all visual arts classes’ curriculum will be restructured to create more variety. Next year, the art department will offer a beginning level course for Drawing, Painting, Filmmaking, Ceramics, Game Development, Design, Printmaking, Photography, and Art History, and then advanced, themed classes, eradicating the three level structure currently in place.
Current Drawing and Painting teacher, Bill Colburn, says “I proposed themed classes 15 years ago, and it was an idea that we developed together as an arts faculty. I’m super excited about the opportunities it presents. It allows us to dive deep, and it also allows the student to think about what interests them and explore that.”
Art teachers have found inspiration from the different units of their current art classes to frame the next generation of advanced, themed classes. Jim Spector, Ceramics teacher, says “A component of Ceramics 3 had been sculpture and clay, and not a lot of time was devoted to it. Now we are going to take that theme and have an entire semester devoted to [sculpture].”
Both Colburn and Spector chose their themed classes based on their experience and expertise with the themes. Colburn says, “if a school lets teachers teach what they want to teach, things will take care of themselves. It’s always about the students, but if the teachers are doing their expertise, then it actually will be more about the students.”
Ultimately, the art classes can be more successful in offering a variety of themes, and giving teachers a chance to share their own expertise and interest, like Spector’s Native American Ceramics Traditions class, an area he had studied in college and thereafter.
There is hope for success in the new structure, as Spector says “We really don’t know how this will play out, but I have already had experience exposing students to these particular ideas in smaller ways, and I know that there is interest, and this structure is just fleshed out for longer periods of time.”