How Do Non-Specialist Teachers Teach Art?

How Do Non-Specialist Teachers Teach Art?

Whilst talented artists often make great teachers, it’s also the case that teachers who have little direct experience of art can be fantastic facilitators.

Teachers are often fearful of teaching art because of their own lack of expertise. There is an assumption that because their own experience is limited, they won’t be able to teach art effectively. This in turn leads teachers to try to gather very specific knowledge which they can both lean on and pass on, in an attempt to feel in control.

In fact, whilst of course the more you know about art the more experience you have to draw upon, it’s also true that even inexperienced teachers can inspire children to have the most amazing adventures in art. All it takes is a shift in emphasis.

Rather than try to teach specific knowledge, embrace a sense of exploration. Forget the normal hierarchy of teacher knows and pupils learns. Instead, you, the teacher, undertake a journey WITH the pupils. Better still, you model that exploration – you tell the children you are exploring and together, you discover and share what you learn.

Why does this work? Because that is the way many artists themselves work. Artists generally don’t know what it is they are going to discover or create through their work. Instead, they are open. They explore. Of course there are things you know, and there are things you want to pass on, but you do this through enabling the pupils’ own exploration.

So instead of starting your session with predefined knowledge which you will pass on, start the session with a question: What might happen if?… and go and explore with your pupils. You still have a plan, you still know what you are doing and why you are doing it… but you don’t yet know what will happen, or even quite how you will do it…

And as you explore, you WILL gain experience, which will help feed into the process of becoming a great art facilitator.

image to show how non-specialist teachers teach art


This is a sample of a resource created by UK Charity AccessArt. We have over 1100 resources to help develop and inspire your creative thinking, practice and teaching.

AccessArt welcomes artists, educators, teachers and parents both in the UK and overseas.

We believe everyone has the right to be creative and by working together and sharing ideas we can enable everyone to reach their creative potential.

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