Authentic Experiences with the Visual Arts: An Interview with Tara Carpenter

Tara Carpenter, professor in BYU’s Department of Art Education, shares her ideas on how to help future teachers integrate visual arts into their classrooms.

Carpenter has taught at BYU for the past three years. She teaches art for elementary teachers (VAEDU 326). The class is designed to help pre-service teachers understand visual arts and develop their own skills. Her teaching style focuses on providing authentic experiences to teachers. She believes that if teachers have real experiences with art they will feel more motivated to teach it. This year she has done just that!

Carpenter helped develop and pilot a new program that instructs elementary education majors how to teach visual arts to children: JUMP ST(ART). JUMPST(ART) is offered as an 8-week after-school class in the Fall and Winter semesters where each session is 50 minutes long.  In the summer, it is offered as a one-week camp for K-6 students where each session is two hours long.  For the children, it is an incredible out-of-school experience with creative projects that increase their artistic skills. For Tara’s students, it is an opportunity to experience what teaching art in a real classroom feels like. These elementary education majors benefit from authentic experiences of creatively writing lesson plans that integrate core standards, while also adjusting for age-appropriateness, managing students (and sometimes messy projects), and enabling their students to have increased interest in the arts because of powerful art instruction.

Last summer Carpenter spent the first week and a half of the month-long term with her class going over such topics as the development of art with children and writing lesson plans. With only five pre-service teachers in the class, they were each required to create a number of lesson plans that could be used for the upcoming art camp. As a class, students collaborated in testing the lessons with one another and planning for over fifty elementary school students, all in different grade levels and with various artistic skills.

After the experience, Professor Carpenter’s students felt empowered and assured in their abilities to teach visual arts in the future. “I feel confident now that I realize art doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter, one-way thing,” said Lauren Snow, one of Carpenter’s students. Snow and the other students felt more likely to integrate art in their teaching because of JUMP ST(ART).

To learn more about this fabulous new program, whether you are an elementary education major, current teacher, or a parent looking for art experiences for your children, please visit the program website. Carpenter also coordinates programming for secondary (ages 13-18) and continuing education students of all ages.  Registration for summer K-12 camps is open now. Check it out at:

These pictures speak for themselves to show how successful this JUMP ST(ART) endeavor is:

Photos used with permission, courtesy of JUMP ST(ART).

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