Innovating Through Artistry

Entrepreneurial Training Ground Found in Teaching Artist Disciplines

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box on September 11, 2008 at 8:41 am

As artists we are exemplary problem-solvers in our artistry and life-long learners constantly striving to improve, deepen and refine our artistic expression. We work specifically with the skills of creativity: discovery, wonder, and combining it with our knowledge of the world to create new experiencial revelations through our work.

Part of the way we do this comes naturally to us through associations we make and the metaphors we use to describe the unspeakable. An example of how metaphors do this can come from looking more closely at a statement like this: “My love is like a red rose”. Of course we all know that the person we love is not a foot and a half tall red flower, but the use of the metaphor allows us to imagine how that image relates to someone we love, deepening the substance, context or shape of it by confronting the boundries of our understanding, deepening our view and allowing new levels of understanding to be discovered as a result of the comparison the use of metaphors create to illuminate our subject matter.

An artistic education is an irreplaceable medium for developing this kind of intelligence and by working through a structured program that develops the use of metaphors more fully, through a teaching artistry development program, artists have a wonderful breeding ground for developing the kind of innate skills also required of an entrepreneur.

What is a Teaching Artist?

Successful teaching artists help provide a tangible link between the creative process and all kinds of learning. But in the case of Teaching Artists the metaphor that their artistry is reflected and refracted through lies in the use of metaphors as they relate to subject areas of study like English, Math, Social Studies, History and any other subject matter you find of interest.

Nationally recognized actor, teaching artist and author Eric Booth has developed the following definition of the teaching artist: “A teaching artist (artist –educator) is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills and sensibilities of an educator, who engages people in learning experiences in, through, and about the arts.”

According to veteran Teaching Artist Karen Erickson, as referenced in the Teaching Artist Journal, there are three distinct areas of work where successful teaching artists demonstrate mastery.

They are:

#1 Become an accomplished artist in your field.
#2 Provide expertise in teaching that includes organizational abilities, people management, knowledge of organizational systems (e.g. schools, prisons, park districts, socials service organizations, etc.) ability to teach (to transfer to others governed by age, gender, physical, cultural and brain development considerations) and knowledge about current trends in the organizational system into which they have been hired.
#3 Be able to operate with business acumen.

These skills sets required to develop as a teaching artists offer not only the opportunity to develop a complimentary career path alongside your artistic endeavors, but also, I believe, provide the perfect breeding ground for the birth of entrepreneurship and the training of the artist as entrepreneur.

Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) and its Internationally recognized founder of this methodoloy, Arnie Aprill, is one organization who provides this type of training in Chicago Public School K-12 environments. Another very old and established working group of Teaching Artists, in New York, is The Learning Arts.

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