Most students would frown if you told them that they would have to attend school on a Saturday. Millersville University (MU) professor in art education, Dr. Leslie Gates plans to change that with her Saturday Art School. This project was the focus of her proposal for the National Art Education Foundation (NAEF) McMullan Grant Award. Gates was notified she received the $2,500 award earlier this summer.
“The grant will be used for supplies for the classes, marketing and publication materials, research to strengthen the program and a stipend for a registration coordinator,” says Gates.
Saturday Art School is a project designed to provide future teachers with an opportunity to enact an emergent curriculum, facilitate learning through questioning, critique and feedback rather than through traditional teacher-directed methods. This type of curriculum addresses a missing component of student involvement in the learning process in the current teacher preparation program, while providing artmaking opportunities to K-12 students in the community. The growing interest in the student-centered, choice-based method of teaching is evidenced by the increasing number of National Art Education Association conference sessions and publications that relate to choice.
“My own research related to choice-based and student-centered education has identified the ways in which teachers’ roles in choice-based environments differ from the roles in a traditional teacher-centered classroom,” says Gates.
Saturday Art School will serve two distinct populations: teacher candidates in the program and students from the community who can take advantage of artmaking opportunities beyond their traditional school experience. Gates will coordinate and facilitate this Saturday Art School experience and participate in a weekly seminar to debrief and to develop the teacher candidates’ skills.
The proposed Saturday Art School is part of a 15-week teacher education course called UNIV 103: Children and Their Ideas. Teacher candidates teach Saturday School as part of their involvement in the course. Saturday Art School will include local K-12 students who enroll in a three-week session that lacks a pre-determined, formalized curriculum. Upon arrival, students will be asked about their own interests and desires related to artmaking. Teacher education candidates will serve as facilitators to help the students conceptualize, create and display their artwork and to identify issues and dilemmas to consider during class sessions.
Saturday Art School took place for the first time this past spring and there were 90 children involved with 136 more students on a waitlist. Local students were encouraged to participate by clicking a link that was sent out on social media. Parents who wish to be notified about registration for future sessions can sign up at Saturday Art School Registration Notification.