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I started working with Dr. Bickley-Green three years ago at East Carolina University. I wanted to earn a masters degree and the art education program would allow me to work full time in an ad agency and complete my degree online.

Her reading list for my first class, Research in art education was very comprehensive. I read Victor Lowenfeld, Rhonda Kellogg, Ellen Dissanayake and Louis Moll to name a few. I became interested in how an art student can develope and grow in more ways than the fine art model defines. I also wanted to tackle the needs that I found in my previous teaching experience and build a survival kit of sorts.

I prepared a research study which used a parent survey to find the 'funds of knowledge' in the community and bring them into the classroom. I designed permission forms to be sent home with the students for the parents to volunteer their expertise in the art room. I implemented the survey at a local middle school with a 70% return rate. The study was patterned after Lewis Moll's work in the area of 'funds of knowledge'.

I worked from there mostly in independent study courses where they became the medium for further exploration into the idea of 'community' in art education. I started exploring the idea within the context of pottery. As I read Bernard Leach, The potters handbook and Soetsu Yanagi, The unknown craftsman I became influenced by their ideas of a standard for crafts and folk art and beauty that had been lost in the industrial revolution. I began to research the possibility of creating a new model for the art curriculum called the clay model. Clay is a unique medium for learning about community and art. It is a integral part of almost every culture. It is both an art form as well as a part of the sociological web of individual use, design and distribution as a commodity. It is also used as an artifact to understand ancient cultures and in that way is anthropological as well.

As I continued to reflect on my past experiences in education I worked to find a means of creating a better learning environment for studying art. The solutions were scarce and I muddled through two more independent studies working on the clay model. The idea came from an article that briefly defined the value of including clay in the art curriculum by E. B. Feldman but there was no other research written on the subject. It seemed logical that creating a classroom curriculum which mirrored the clay model would help students to explore art from every angle. The fine art model doesn't connect at all to local art and popular culture. A model that included all three would bring the student closer to an appreciation of art in a sort of 'situated' perspective.

My last two semesters seemed to bring more solid solutions to the problem of a quality learning environment. My classes in the Education department 'Differences in human learning' were very rigorous and extremely useful. They brought into close scrutiny the forms of public education that I had found to be wanting. I learned about using positive behavioral management plans in the classroom and universal design for lesson plans. The goals for both are to create a community environment in the classroom that reaches all of the students, not just the students who have good logical reasoning skills.

Building good communities in the classroom reflect the type of learning skills students will use in their life outside of the classroom. But further definition is required in order to have an idea when the community environment has been successful. If the classroom is a community then what kind of community is it?

My last semester was a study abroad trip to Italy with the art education department. We spent one week doing observations at three infant toddler centers designed and funded by the community. They operate the schools from ideas based on over twenty years of rigoruos research in teaching children. They helped me to see a method of building classroom communities that is successful.

The philosophy of the schools is to understand the world of the child. They define the school as part of their culture. Rather than seeing the schools as a holding place for children while their parents work, they have designed a new place within their culture for the children. There is no longer in or out. The school is seemlessly woven into their community. The goal is for the children to be totally embraced by the community. They have a mix of the hospitality of home and the resources of an institution. They view the children as having their own social needs as an individual.

How can these wonderful ideas be useful to me in my future? I no longer see myself as an individual floating on an island that exists only on my map. My world has begun to include everyone around me as my community. I am not an authoritarian figure in a classroom but a member of a concerned and caring community who meets with other members daily sharing ideas and forming goals.

The medium of the internet has been floating around just outside my grasp as a useful tool to further these ideas. I have made a start on connecting to my community by creating a comprehensive collection of my work online. My interests in my family, art, education and well as a forum for posting personal narratives are able to be accessed in one place for the first time and shared with family and friends.

The focus of my life right now is to share my work with my community, support thoughtful, caring education, and help students reach their potential with thoughtful reflection. As for the clay model or craft model in art education curriculum, it will need to be tested in the classroom. I have a good start towards using it as a theory for a qualitative research study.


Dissanayake, Ellen (1992). Homoaestheticus, Where art comes from and why. Canada: Maxwell Macmillan Inc.

Feldman, E. B. (1988). A case for clay in secondary education, Clay: arguments for and with, Studio Potter.

Kellogg, R. (1970). Analyzing children's art, Palo Alto, CA: National Press Books.

Leach, B. (1973). Potter's handbook. Great Britian: Transatlantic Arts Inc.

Yanagi, S. (Rev. Ed.1989). The unknown craftsman: a Japanese insight into beauty. New York, NY: Kodansha America.

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