Sunday, December 2, 2012

Are Art Teachers also Literacy Teachers?

Warning: this post is a rant.  I sat on it for 24 hours before posting. Although many may disagree with me, I feel it is important to say.

This artist is failing every class he has expect art.  In art, he has an A.
A few days ago a colleague was speaking about how important it is for all teachers to encorage reading and writing in their classes.  She said, "In our district, all teachers are Literacy teachers."


Please do not misunderstand me: I am fully aware (and support) of how important Literacy is, especially in our high ELL student population.  But I think my job is so much more:

I have students who still cannot write letters (in seventh grade), refuse to pick up a pencil for writing tasks, and crumple into despair when held accountable.  These are the students at the highest risk for drop out, but many still come back because of “non-core” classes, such as art.  I think we need to recognize that the statement, “all teachers are Literacy teachers,” sounds wonderful, it is not true.  My job is to help students find success when everywhere else they look is failure.  My job is to teach students how to engage and persist, stretch and explore, reflect, envision, and express; not just in art, but in everything they do.  My job is to teach all the incredibly important things every person should learn, but have been driven out of our schools because they are difficult to assess.  Students do read and write in my classroom, but not because I was told to do so by someone else to help support their Language A.  If I help students in their language acquisition, that is wonderful, but it is not my focus or drive.  Please, do not force me justify my instruction though someone else's curriculum.

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