Sunday, March 7, 2010


Describe an experience you have had with a person who has a disability. How did your interactions with this person change your perspective on teaching?

The first memory that popped into my mind is a collection of memories from my first year in Art Education methods courses two years ago at UNI. There was a student who open enrolled in our class who had a physical disability. Working with a student and peer in a wheelchair opened my mind to accessiblity of supplies aroudn the room, as well as the room layout. Things such as washing his hands, reaching the dry racks, or finding supplies on the shelves in the closet required assistance. I was paired with him for many partner assignments and meetings outside of classtime around campus and the town gave me a new realization of handicap accessibility (or lack there of). We have continued to remain very good friends, but to this day he is unable to visit me where I live because I am on the third floor of a dorm that is not handicap accessible.

The one thing that I absolutely love about this individual however, is how real he is and how alive his passion for art it. He will not let anyone look down on him or expect less than the most creative outlet of artistic ability. My favorite experiences have been painting ceramics at pursuing picasso and comparing sketchbooks. Chapter 10 in Adolescents at School talks about the idea of people with disabilities being considered "eternal children", and how society rarely expects them to grow up, get a job, or get married. I feel guilty to admit it but I too fell into this subconscious perception before I got to know my friend through art classes and now I have repaired my view as I know about his dreams and goals and what he values in life.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to teaching every student and to valuing every student. The chapter in Real-World-Readings was a very interesting concept to me, that of teaching nonvisual learners. I think it would be a challenge but I would welcome the opportunity to push my skills as a teacher and learn to look beyond the visual properties of art. My personal art philosophy has always revolved around the idea that art is about the process, not the product.


  1. Very insightful and interesting post! I especially agree with what you said about teaching and valuing each student as an individual. It can be hard, especially if you're trying to work with everyone in class along with giving more individualized attention, but I think it's worth it.

  2. As sighted people and as people with a high visual acuity it is easy to take vision and verbal visual metaphors for granted. Once I worked with a student who could not see and all she wanted to make were stars on the outside of her clay vessel. She wanted to know what the stars looked like and wanted the shapes as reference for her to remember what they "looked" like.

  3. Agreed. Agreed. And agreed. Very good thoughts and insights.

    If I ever teach elementary, I'm having the Kindergartners and 1st graders make portraits and/or self portraits with blindfolds on so they don't get ideas in their head that everything has to have likability in order to be "good". I think it may relate to your idea of process not product.