Art teachers make difficult curricular decisions every day as they determine how to structure the very limited time they have with their students. Introducing media techniques, conceptual frameworks for understanding how those techniques are used, introducing contemporary artists and artists from history who use those techniques to create meaning in their work, and addressing the value of and need for art are all necessary and important aspects of a balanced, relevant, and inclusive art education. Art educators Bolin and Hoskings (2015) pose three guiding questions to help art educators cultivate "purposeful practice" as they develop a comprehensive art curriculum. These questions are:
  • What do I want those who encounter my program to know about art?
  • What should these participants be able to do artistically because of the experience provided to them?
  • How do learners value the arts as an outcome of my care and effort with them?
Students will know that artists today and throughout history have served as the storytellers of their communities, and that through their participation in art-making, they are contributing to the human story. Meaning-filled art challenges us to address human suffering (think Picasso's Guernica), offers opportunities to reflect on the passage of time (think Van Gogh's Sunflowers), address contemporary issues such as climate change (think Olafur Eliasson's Ice Watch Project), and understand cultural and personal identity (think Maria Compos-Pons' Polariod Series). Lessons are informed by Virginia SOLs, Olivia Gude's Post-Modern Principles of Art, community needs, and individual student interests.
Students are exposed to a variety of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and digital media and techniques at each grade level, with depth and complexity of skill increasing as students demonstrate a readiness for more challenges. Students will be asked to respond to various prompts throughout the school year, each addressing a human commonality, or Big Idea. As students advance through the curriculum, their ability to visually respond tobig ideas with clarity, creativity, and confidence will develop as they create, speak, and write about art, and connect art-making with learning in other subject areas. They will be challenged to, and celebrated for, doing their best each day.
Art, art-making, and understanding in the arts is relevant, necessary, and imperative for contemporary societies. Communication is increasingly dependent upon visuals, and teaching our students to interpret multiple layers of meaning in imagery allows them to develop their own values. Learning in the arts embraces multiple expressions of intelligence, and offers children new ways of engaging with their thinking. Students have multiple platforms to share their art with their families, both tangible and digital, offering opportunities for meaningful conversations about art and life.