Methods of Teaching Art

girl hands-up image by Jane September from

Art education has its roots in Massachusetts. Manufactures realized that skilled draftsmen and designers were needed for creating new products and expanding America's world market. Drawing was taught through imitation, drill and practice. John Dewey believed in a child-based method of teaching, based on the child's needs and self-expression. When the Soviets launched Sputnik, America was put in the “space race” and needed engineers and scientists. The shift in art education moved from "soft” and child-centered to DBAE (discipline-based art education), which has four criterion: art production, art criticism, aesthetics, and art history.


Laissez-faire art method means without interference or direction. Laissez-faire teachers give students the material, and it is up to the child to create a self-expressive work of art.


The goal of DBAE is to develop an understanding and appreciation for art. DBAE includes teaching theories, contexts, and the ability to create and respond to art. Course content is created around art criticism, art history, art techniques and the context the art was created in.


An authoritarian-dictatorial method of teaching is normally set aside for students who have a low art ability. This method of teaching dictates exactly what to do in a step-by-step manner and includes a lot of directions at every step.

Assigned Topic

The assigned topic or student-oriented method of teaching involves the teachers as a motivator. The teacher’s job is to get their students to express themselves, develop their confidence, abilities and perception in art along with their knowledge, skill and attitudes toward art. In art history the teachers will teach chronologically starting from pre-history or thematic lessons around periods or styles.

Media Method

The media method of teaching is popular in higher levels of learning, and the lessons are created around a certain medium such as photography or ceramics. The focus is on knowledge surrounding that medium which includes various techniques, history and experimentation.

Facilitator Method

The facilitator method of teaching involves the student and teacher having a conference to decide the direction that particular student should go. This works well with higher learning and with students who are motivated or at an advanced level. The student chooses their media, topic and how to proceed with the help of the teacher.