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ECU art professor Dr. Borim Song and students in Song's art education class at East Carolina University work with the students at the Greenville Korean Language School to hone teaching skills through a visual arts program at the school. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
ART OF TEACHING
ECU professor trains aspiring teachers through service-learning
The art of teaching takes patience, diligence and the ability to multi-task.
Working with a group of 25 children ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade – on a Saturday – takes even more of those talents.
East Carolina University art education professor Dr. Borim Song is helping aspiring teachers hone those skills through a service-learning experience that connects ECU art education students with children at the Greenville Korean Language School.
Song requires students in her ART 2123 class to join her for observation and co-teaching art lessons for the Korean-American children at the school, held at Immanuel Baptist Church in Greenville. Song said she would like for all of the art education students to eventually teach the class.
"Being in the setting where everybody else is speaking a different language, that is a very educational experience," Song said. She said her ECU students should be able to take this experience and apply it to their future careers as teachers.
The collaboration began a little more than one year ago, when Greenville Korean School principal Jan-Di Kim contacted Song about starting a visual art program for the students. Kim said through the bi-weekly art classes, the children are open to learning and interacting with each other.
“All students love art and they can communicate with that,” Kim said. “They can share their opinions, and they can open their minds and get close to each other.”
Students in the Greenville Korean School learn through art under the watchful eye of ECU professor Borim Song and ECU students in art education.
Song said she thought this opportunity would be a great service-learning experience for her ECU students. She contacted Dennis McCunney, director of ECU's Volunteer and Service-Learning Center, who worked to make the planned partnership official. Students in the course must observe at least two classes to fulfill the service-learning component.
Students like Brittany Brisson, who has completed Song's course, can return as co-teachers to gain more teaching experience. Although Brisson plans to teach at the high school level, she enjoys working with the children at the school. She said she appreciates the opportunity to teach, rather than watch someone else teach.
"It changes your perception of art elementary education," said Brisson. "It gave me confidence to teach younger kids."
Song said it is difficult for art education students to get quality, hands-on teaching experience before their required senior-year classroom internships. The service-learning experience provides the ECU students a chance to grow as individuals and as future educators, she said.
This semester, the program will focus on connecting Korean culture and language and North Carolina traditions through visual arts. The Korean art from the 17th and 18th centuries will be compared with the Black Mountain College art movement in North Carolina from the mid-20th century. A focus on two artists from the Black Mountain College arts movement and two from Korean art history should enable the students to make connections between the two cultures, with the help of visual arts, Song explained.
The cross-cultural element allows the children to begin to develop a sense of self, Song said. The children are "not only learning Korean culture or American culture, but also thinking about who they are," what kinds of people they are and what kinds of interests they have, she said.
Song said her goal for the children is to "have the opportunity to really understand and rediscover themselves through art and by looking into their culture and other cultures."
The project was supported by a grant from the National Art Education Foundation.
ECU art education student Brittany Brisson, left, works with Hun Lim, center, and Sophia Song at the Greenville Korean School.