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Art Teacher or Artist: Finding Mr./Ms. Right

February 3, 2010

For five years, the early childhood program at ACS has been more and more inspired by Reggio Emilia.  Beginning by changing the environment, arguably the least imposing aspect of the approach, teachers began to see differences in the children and in their own professional growth.  A hunger to learn more was born, and many teachers are constantly reading and exploring to find more information about the approach and Reggio classrooms around the world.

We are now exploring the idea of bringing an atelierista into our community.  Although the kindergarten classes spend time (about twice a week) with a traditional art teacher, we are yearning for something different.  We aren’t sure how to schedule, or even how the teacher and atelierista will work together, but we’re craving an artist’s perspective on children and their work, and how we can support children’s learning through meaningful expression.

In Lebanon, it’s rare to find teachers who are familiar with the Reggio philosophy.  Hypothetically, if we bring in someone with no previous knowledge of Reggio Emilia, will we foster a more meaningful experience by hiring a traditional art teacher and providing experiences for him/her to learn about our philosophy, or by hiring an artist with little, if any, knowledge of education?

This is the question we are considering.  What do you think: hire an artist or hire an art teacher for the role of atelierista?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2010 8:46 am

    Ah – now this is a tricky situation. I have tried both. Hiring and artist is GREAT – they have a totally different way of seeing and they offer fabulous experiences with the children (and teachers). But. They can also really struggle with what their role is and how to let it unfold.

    Hiring a teacher, though, who can do art? Bigger issues – because they now need to completely reposition their self image and how they understanding working with children.

    I would hire an artist – and preferably one with children themselves, or with some limited experience teaching.

    And then prepare for a lot of training time…

  2. February 5, 2010 7:45 am

    There plenty of “boths” out there. My belief is that you must be practicing artist to teach art. It is how you understand not only the aesthetics and materials, but the risks you ask children to take. On the other hand you also must see yourself as a progressive educator and advocate for early childhood and a collaborator. You will find just the right person, start asking around, someone always seems to know someone.
    Good luck!

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