All of this is helpful to me as a teacher and helps me plan for the following year. One survey reminded me that we did not use a particular media this year when I had in the past. Another said they wished we could paint outdoors as the impressionists did. These are simple things that were valuable to know and I will apply next year.
Some wished to do sculpture projects within a 2D art class, so I remind them to consider taking sculpture or ceramics the next year. Some didn’t like writing a research paper… but admitted that my interview format was more fun than the traditional dry report.
For me though, I look to “One thing I learned in class was:.” Many stated the obvious; perspective, shading techniques, color mixing, drawing facial or body proportions, knowing their elements and principles, and art history. This all means I have “done my job.” It's nice to see they learned something to strengthen their skills, but I know that maybe 10% of students will go on to an art-related career. After a few years, knowing "how to shade" may be a distant memory, forgotten, and possibly never apply to their job as an accountant, police officer, or welder.
What I do take pride in is the many students who expressed knowledge that will go well beyond the walls of my art room. I actually believe most of my students gain these "Enduring Understandings." Things that, in some small way, have changed their perception of the world.
Isabella C. “I learned that creativity can be implemented into art. I also learned that you can express yourself through art.”
Morgan B. “I learned that not all art can be so specific that the viewers can see. If the artist sees it, that’s all that matters.”
Cara M. “How to use my creativity.”
Jared R. “Art means a lot more than what it looks like.”
Abby B. “How to manage my time more wisely.”
Saskia L. “That putting as much detail in your work as possible makes it look so much better.”
Christian N. “Art is really just your imagination magnified and exposed in so many different ways.”
Marco M. “Not to rush,” and “art comes in different forms and there is no right way to do art.”
Isabella B. “That you can turn a mistake into a masterpiece, and that art holds more than one perspective.”
Billy I. “Emotion, whether through color, shape, or shade is the most important part of art.”
Aubrey L. “To always try my best no matter how bad it turns out.”
Kathleen B. “Be comfortable trying new things.”
John C. “You taught me that art can be an escape from my pain. I came close to suicide a few times and you challenged me to put my feelings into my art. It saved my life I think.”
As art educators, I think it's these enduring understandings that are far more important than how to mix green, do good facial proportions, or shade. We give them tools that can be applied to life, relationships, and the world around themselves. Many of us may never know the depth to which our profession has shaped or helped a child, but once in a while we get a glimpse... and it's a joy.