Teaching, Learning and Art











Why teaching and learning have a lot in common with street art

I am a big fan of street art. I like how it subverts traditional conceptions of art, artist and viewer. By creating artistic encounters in unexpected places there is a sense of serendipitous discovery and personal connectedness. Street art wakes us up to the creative possibilities in environments that are taken-for-granted and thus invisible.

But is it really art? What is art?












Is art beauty? Truth? A thought, idea or emotion captured in images or words?

Or is it an experience, an evocation of some reaction (positive or negative), stimulus for thought/reflection?

All of the above and more?

And who gets to decide what constitutes art? The artist? The viewer? The museum curator? The market?

Maybe I’m especially drawn to street art as a form of conceptual/contemporary art because it has so much in common with my philosophy of teaching and learning. Just like great street art:

Real learning happens outside the classroom.

Advances in knowledge question the status quo.

Learning derives from our engagement with our environment.

Deep learning stimulates an emotional response: surprise, delight, outrage, insight.












Teaching and learning are essentially creative enterprises as much (or more?) than cognitive/intellectual processes. Educators are both curators (What will I teach? What sources and strategies will I use?) and artists (What response am I trying to elicit? What experience (curriculum) do I (co-)create to get us to that place?).

The creative imperative is all around – and within – us. We are all artists in our construction of knowledge, experience and expression.



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  1. I like to use the metaphor of teaching as an artistic pursuit; it opens up possibilities for engagement and creativity with students that otherwise might not occur.
    I love this post!

    • Connie Letton said:

      I agree Ivan, conceptualizing teaching/facilitating as an artistic pursuit keeps the process dynamic. A dynamic engagement in a group opens up the opportunity for a thoughtful and reflective exchange among all learners (facilitator included). Great post Marilyn!

  2. Thank you Ivan and Connie for your comments, and glad you enjoyed the post!

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