SchoolArts Room

More Teaching Philosophies

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Apr 20, 2012

Once again it is time for my UNT preservice students to finalize their teaching philosophies for this semester. I have asked three of them if I could share their philosophies on here and they all said yes.


This first one is by Noah Vasquez, who also read his text for a podcast; hearing his voice certainly made it more personal. I think it would be helpful for current teachers to think about writing their own teaching philosophies. It is a great exercise in reflection.


Becoming an educator was not the plan when I came to college. I mean, it really, really wasn't. My mother is an educator and has taught elementary school going on 25 years now, and I grew up hearing a constant stream of complaints about her profession. When I came to college I wanted to be a graphic designer; however, in order to do that, I was required to take an Adobe Illustrator class and pass an examine to prove that I had learned the how to effectively use the program. All in all, it was dull. I mean, I did not bear a strong hated for Illustrator, but there was definitely an inseparable level of apathy towards it.
It was a course I had to take outside of UNT and my regular course load, and although other people interested in graphic design had to take the Illustrator course to pass the eventual test, they simply did not have the time or means. It was not long before I found myself teaching my peers how to use Adobe Illustrator. Then, all of a sudden, something clicked. I realized that I, by far, enjoyed teaching my peers how to operate Adobe Illustrator rather than actually using the program myself. From that moment on, I knew I could not be anything other than an educator.
I knew that I wanted to teach, but what should I teach? The question was daunting. At first I thought of language. Language was interesting; it is central to the human experience. We, as a species, are completely immersed in it. Language is flexible, agile and takes many forms—it is visual, it is spoken and it is musical. However, visual language and communication are what truly fascinated me. Look at the ancient cave paintings in Lascaux—even before we had the written word we had the pictorial. When one thinks of language one often thinks only of the spoken word; however, I believe the spoken word is neither the most common, impactful, nor insightful; these characteristics belong to the visual. As the famous painter Georgia O'Keeffe said, "I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say in any other way -- things I had no words for."

The visual language speaks more frequently to humanity than any other form, especially in today’s society of consumerism which is filled to the brim with advertising. Though it is not always active, the visual influence is ever present and constantly imposes itself on the subconscious mind. In my opinion, the absence of education over art and the visual, with their constant influence and presence, is not only foolish but reckless.

As an art educator, I believe it is my duty to educate my students on the history of art and how to master their own tones of visual language. My aim is to enable students to access the visual realm and to learn how to judge and be a part of it. I believe that the skill of drawing and applying color as well as the exposure to art is essential to these goals. However, this should not be restricted to traditional medium. Students should explore technology and how that interacts with visual culture and their environments. Students will create artwork in class in order to master these skills and promote creativity.
Grading will be based upon students’ ability to follow instructions, yet still express personal ideas. The incorporation of visual culture and cross-cultural influences will enable students to not only find self identity but to express themselves more accurately. I will focus more on Modern and Post Modern Art within art history for idea continuity and lesson inspiration.