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kaz mccue
teaching philosophy

I have pursued a career in education because I strongly believe in the power of the arts to impact our culture and I have a passion for involving young people in the arts. I take my role as an artist-citizen very seriously and enjoy bringing my work in service, research, and teaching together to impact young artists. As an educator, I see the classroom or studio as a collaborative environment within which all students can engage in the process of learning. This setting becomes a forum where questions are an important tool in increasing skill and knowledge and where each student can assess their own strengths and challenges in defining their goals. I am devoted to the idea that developing a sound process for learning will have a much more substantial impact on a student than accumulating a block of information. This is, I feel, the difference between superficial or temporary learning and insightful learning.

My teaching philosophy focuses on experiential learning, teaching for understanding and empowering students to become advanced learners. In the book Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education, Lois Hetland and her co-authors outline eight habits of mind that can be learned in studio art classes: 1. develop craft, 2. engage and persist, 3. envision, 4. express, 5. observe, 6. reflect, 7. search and explore, and 8. understand the art world. With this model in mind, there are many opportunities available to interact with the students and participate in a more longitudinal type of assessment. It is important to note that I am not simply interested in the end product as it is only one kind of evidence. From an assessment standpoint, utilizing critiques (both in-progress and afterwards), protocols designed to generate questions, peer evaluations and self-evaluations, and opportunities to apply knowledge all help to paint a comprehensive picture of student learning.

As I have matured as an educator, I have learned how to more effectively involve students in classes and see myself as a facilitator for students. I have learned (by using the same assessment tools) to better listen to my students, to ask better questions, and to allow them to have more control over their own learning. One example I can sight in this progression is that I no longer arrive to the first day of classes with a written syllabus but rather use that first meeting as an opportunity for discussion. While the requirements of the class are outlined, that discussion allows the class establishes goals and expectations as a group and, as a result, the students immediately gain a sense of ownership. I’ve learned over the years that the students typically have the same basic expectations that I do, but involving them in the process of setting goals and objectives sets the groundwork for them to engage in the learning process.

As a teacher, I feel it is important to use my enthusiasm and my passion for the arts to motivate and encourage students and instill in them the value of a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. Within the visual arts specifically, I focus on helping students to develop their fundamentals, to be involved with a broader range of experience, and to make a more personal connection to their work. My primary goal in teaching is to help students develop an understanding of their own learning processes so that they can use those tools in other areas of their education and their lives.