Most people interested in teaching art obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education, which is typically a 4-year program that combines both education and art classes. However, many students graduate with a Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts in pursuit of working as a professional artist, then earn teaching certification later in their careers to work as an art teacher. Other artists looking to work in education might enter into a Master of Fine Arts program with a concentration in teaching. Each state has differing requirements for K-12 teachers, and most colleges require art teachers to be qualified with an advanced degree and demonstrated experience in the art world.
Training programs for potential art teachers combine art history and technique with the principles of education. Classes in learning theory, teaching practices, curriculum planning and a wide range of artistic mediums are only part of the preparation for art teachers. Most programs also require a teaching practicum, and most states require teachers of any subject to pass subject-matter competency exams.
Here is an outline of common concepts taught in art teacher training courses:
- Art education
- Art history
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List of Art Education Courses
Foundations of Education
For anyone interested in becoming a teacher of any kind, a class in the foundations of education is a requirement. In an introductory education class, students will learn about the theories and principles of education, curriculum issues, the history of education, legal issues in education and current issues in schools. This class is usually offered in the first year of a degree program; however, art students may take it later since many art classes are also needed for those interested in teaching art courses. Some schools may also mandate that students take separate classes in elementary and secondary education.
This class builds upon the concepts of an introductory education class and tailors its instruction specifically to those who want to teach art courses. Students in an art teaching class learn about the best ways to present art to children and learn how to teach a range of art media, from drawing to collage to photography. Many colleges offer this class separately, geared toward teaching elementary, secondary or special education students. This class is required and often taken during the first year, depending on other mandatory courses.
Art teachers frequently discuss art history with their students. Topics in this class range from Mesopotamian art to modern art and also deal with the Renaissance, Impressionism and more. Art history classes also teach students how to take an in-depth look at various images to see their greater significance. This class is usually offered during the first two years of college and is required; some colleges break art history classes into two or more sections.
Almost every form of artwork begins with drawing, making this class extremely important. In this class, students learn about spacing, proportion, perspective, copying, coloring, figurative drawing and deconstructionism. Most drawing classes require students to take traditional exams and work on an artistic portfolio, both of which count towards their grades. This rudimentary art class is mandatory for anyone interested in teaching art courses.
2D and 3D Design
Classes in 2D and 3D design hone students' critical thinking and art application skills. Students learn about the basics of design, color theory, mirroring, rotation, positive and negative space, circling, dimension reading, boxing, squaring, cubism and sculpting. These classes are studio classes where students must bring in their own materials to work on a portfolio. Some programs offer 2D and 3D design as separate courses.