Making Art Side-by-Side with Students Participating in University Assisted Community Schools (UACS)
Art Education 520, “Issues and Topics Current to the Field of Art Education” examines contemporary and best practice issues.
This first summer session 2013 class had graduate students working side-by-side (one-to-one) with Pond Gap Elementary students participating in the summer University Assisted Schools program. The younger students made art focused on topics that most interested them.
Cramer and her students used their UT Outreach Incentive Grant to buy art supplies, exhibit frames, and food for a final art exhibition and reception for all participants at UT’s Beck Cultural Arts and Exchange Center.
Following the reception, the children’s art was displayed in the Education Gallery of the Knoxville Museum of Art for the month of August.
Documentation of engagement with the UACS community involved collecting feedback from both UT and Pond Gap students though journal entries, surveys and focus group interviews, and final paper. Cramer also photographed and documented all art and videos produced by the students.
In addition to making art with elementary school children, UT graduate students created an art-centered interdisciplinary curriculum addressing a discipline area most needing to be strengthened (language arts, science, social studies, math, etc.) for their younger, side-by-side partners.
Without the partnership, neither the Pond Gap nor UT students would have had the benefits that can only be gleaned through the relationship that develops when people come together to work with and explore art materials side-by-side.
University-Assisted Community School children learned to create artwork that engages and supports them in areas that already interest them, rather than having to focus on interests imposed upon them by others.
UT’s Preservice teachers, meanwhile, had hands-on opportunities to work with students of broad diversity, while continuing to explore the question: “is teaching for me?”