In June, the education department at the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art hosted Teaching through Visual Arts, a four-day workshop generously funded by the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation. The primary goals of the workshop were to encourage K–12 educators to take the lead in creating pre-visit resource materials and gallery programs and to introduce them to the educational benefits of initiating interdisciplinary and multicultural dialogues through guided visual analyses of original works of art.
The twenty-one participants submitted a proposal around a theme or idea they planned to develop. The education department read the proposals and tailored the workshop sessions around them. Each educator received a binder of museum resources, a stipend to offset expenses, and a voucher for bus transportation to and from the museum for a future gallery session with their students during the 2016–17 academic year.
Educators were grouped into six “teacher teams” according to information drawn from their proposals. An experienced docent from the museum’s Docent Program was matched with each team according to their skills, educational interests, and gallery expertise, serving as the point person throughout the entire workshop. Moureen Coulter, Tina Jernigan, Ilona Richey, Becky Rusie, Kim Simpson, Helena Walsh, and Rich Wolf introduced educators to exercises in guided visual observation, transforming galleries into learning laboratories for enhancing classroom discussions on math, modernism, literature, writing, history, timeline development, social studies, and so forth. With a front row perspective throughout the workshop, the docents will provide presentations that prepare each classroom for their upcoming gallery session.
In addition to exploring all three floors of the museum’s permanent collection, individual teacher teams were treated to an overview of the resources at the Lilly Library, Mathers Museum of World Cultures, and Monroe County History Center, tailored to the themes of their proposal topics. The Indiana Murals of Thomas Hart Benton and the Daily Collection of Hoosier Painting at the IU Auditorium as well as special presentations by Sherry Rouse, curator of campus art, and Nan Brewer, Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator for Works on Paper, assisted these educators in further identifying objectives in their visual-based lessons.
By the end of the workshop, teachers had made their initial selections of masterworks for the pre-visit resource materials and gallery sessions, listed the objectives of their lesson plans, and made presentations to their peers regarding their plans for art-driven lessons, generating discussion and receiving invaluable feedback.
Evaluations as well as extensive notes taken from these teachers’ presentations will supply essential information for the museum’s education department to compile and edit final drafts of twenty-one new PowerPoints. Each teacher will test and tweak these preparatory materials with their students, while assessing and refining the effectiveness of the gallery session during visits to the museum with their students next academic year.
Ed Maxedon, the museum’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Education, states, “The education department believes this pioneering approach to creating K–12 gallery programming will have a multiplying effect, adding new gallery programs annually. Classroom teachers will be more likely to use this program because they initiated it and have invested their time and expertise. All of these K–12 educators are dedicated, setting aside a week of their summer vacations to try something completely new. Teachers, students, docents and practicum students will add their voices to help determine a quality program.”