My name is Alvin White, and I am a Teaching Artist at the Columbus Museum of Art. Imagine walking into a middle school classroom and you’ve become the star of 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Students are high-fiving you, asking you questions about art and interested in learning about you. This is completely different from my middle school experiences, actually the opposite. For me to have the chance to redo middle school has been a huge opportunity to learn how to reshape thinking for the betterment of others by talking about complex social issues that are relevant to the students’ lives.
I was the teaching artist this past year for Pressing Matters and Critical Works, programs the Museum conducts with Central and Southeastern Ohio middle schools that lack arts programs. CMA staff brings authentic, socially charged works of art to the classroom to engage students in an interdisciplinary learning experience. Students explore social issues relevant to their own lives and communicate their concerns through creative expression and experimentation.
Although teaching about art and social issues is part of my job, I am also indirectly teaching about something else: the importance of an effective black male artist in the classroom. Every time I start a program, I re-learn that seventh and eighth grade students are much smarter than we give them credit for. Students are able to pick up on the significance that I am an one of the few examples of a black male teacher within the building, maybe the only creative black role model they have encountered.
Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
-Alvin White, CMA Teaching Artist for School and Teen Initiatives