Art education is not a degree where you can specialize in a specific art form. Students eager to express their creative aptitude should opt for a fine arts program instead. Fine arts allow more study areas such as theater, film, interior design, fashion, etc. The primary study area of art education is to become an effective and capable teacher.
Art and its education cover a range of genres, primarily under visual arts and performing arts. Examples of the former are painting, sculpture, film, photography, drawing, computer art, and architecture—the design of jewelry, furniture, automobiles, and fashion fall under the heading of visual arts. The performing arts include theater, music, dance, magic, comedy, and more. Art is
Probably the consensus is that art requires creativity. Many of us believe we either are artistic or not. Because you cannot paint like Leonardo da Vinci or Claude Monet does not mean you lack creativity. Art needs only to be a form of self-expression, regardless of age and talent. The preschooler coloring with crayons and an older adult dabbling in painting with watercolors are expressive through art.
What degree do you need?
Individuals interested in teaching in public schools in elementary or middle school should start with a bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in art. The available choices are not plentiful, although you can find campus and online programs. For example, Colorado State University’s Department of Art and Art History has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education. Graduates will have the skills and knowledge to teach art in kindergarten through grade 12 levels. This program boasts a strong relationship with Colorado school districts, state-of-the-art facilities, and a student chapter of the National Art Education Association.
In addition to at least an undergraduate degree, you should anticipate meeting the state’s requirements in which you plan to teach. You may need a teacher prep program. For example, Michigan mandates that art teachers complete the state-approved prep program and hold a bachelor’s degree (minimum) from one of the 34 colleges and universities approved by the State Board of Education. More importantly, of the 34 schools, only 23 have approval for arts education.
Different states = Different requirements
Choose your degree wisely. Maryland requires art teachers to major in art or complete 30 semester hours or more in art-related classes. Applicants must also have 21 hours of professional education course work and a 3-semester hour course in:
- Adolescent Development
- Human Learning
- Teaching Methodology
- Special Needs Education
- Assessment of Students
A complete list of the requirements by state is available at Art TeacherEdu.org.
Testing is another part of the application and approval process to teach art. Some states (California is one) administer skills tests in reading, writing, and mathematics. Another possible requirement is the Praxis test, which measures academic skills and subject-specific knowledge for future teachers. South Carolina uses the test as one of the criteria for selecting teaching professionals.
Therefore, the specific areas of study in art education may not be as significant as each state’s ancillary requirements. Individuals pursuing a career in art education in public schools should know where they will teach in advance of their college education. The diversity in the prerequisites for teachers dictates what areas you must study and which school you select.
Judging from the stipulations for the states, does the ability to teach exceed one’s artistic talent? It seems so. Prospective teachers and art majors could explore Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Art Education, which qualifies graduates to teach in PK – 12. The coursework combines art history, art criticism, and studio art. The latter allows students to express their creativity in drawing, ceramics, painting, sculpture, and media.
Artistic talent = not so important
A degree in art education will not give you the latitude of a fine arts program. The focus of art education is to become a proficient teacher – the creative talent to express oneself in one of the art forms is secondary. The exception is a music teacher who needs a degree in music or music education. As with art education, there are state conditions to be eligible. A music teacher will also need to master multiple instruments. Therefore, one’s skill as a musician must be on par with one’s teaching competency. By contrast, the art teacher is not evaluated based on his/her capability to draw or paint.
That is not to say, an art teacher requires zero flair for the arts. Most likely, students taking a degree in art education have a sense of creativity and the desire to teach. Therefore, there is no particular area of study, but an assortment of different art forms is helpful.