Being an art teacher summarised everything for Rebeca
She likes to paint and loves to teach. And yet it wasn’t until she was twenty-five that Rebeca Arwlén realised she was going to be an art teacher. “When I finally realised it, I applied to HDK-Valand and got in,” she says.
It’s early morning when one of Rebeca Arwlén’s students walks into the classroom. A smile comes over Rebeca’s face. “I’m so glad you’re here. Welcome back!” she says, giving her student a warm hug.
“It’s so important to have this interaction – that the students trust me, and I trust them,” says Rebeca. “If the students don’t feel safe at school, they can’t learn anything anyway.”
Since last autumn, she works eighty per cent as an art teacher at the newly started Designskolan, an upper Secondary School with specialisation in Design in downtown Gothenburg. She spends the other twenty per cent of her time just 350 meters away at Klaraskolan, also a Upper Secondary School.
She’s happy and hasn’t regretted her choice of career for a single second. Not yet, in any case.
“Ask me again in fifteen years,” she says, laughing. “Maybe it’ll be different by then.”
Becoming a teacher was hardly something Rebeca dreamed about as a child. Instead, she had her sights set on working with culture, and studied in the Aesthetics programme in upper secondary school with a concentration in theatre. For a while she was considering becoming a designer, but the need to sit at a desk or work on assignment for various clients didn’t appeal to her.
Then one day her cousin succeeded in summarising almost everything Rebeca likes to do – in a single job.
“My cousin said, ‘You’ve always painted, you love to work with kids, you have substituted at school, and you love teaching. Why don’t you become an art teacher?’”
It was then she came to the realisation – and the conviction: of course, she would be an art teacher. And of course, she would get her degree at HDK-Valand.
“I wanted to be an art teacher, and I wanted to stay here in the city where I’ve lived my whole life,” she says. “There was really only one school for me – and it’s a school that happens to have a pretty good reputation.”
It has now been two years since she graduated. For the first year she worked at a secondary school. It was a rewarding job, but as a qualified upper secondary school teacher she was ready to move on.
“At Designskolan I get to make use of what I learned,” she says. “I spent five years studying to be an art teacher, and I went through a lot of stuff – things you don’t have time for in one forty-five-minute class a week. Here our classes are two hours and forty minutes, every day.”
Rebeca would gladly have spent even more time exploring techniques and materials during the course of her art teacher training. At the same time, she came away with some things she never expected to learn but that she makes good use of practically every day. Like a solid understanding of norms – what they mean and how they affect us – and what it’s like to break with the norms in your work.
“I wasn’t really prepared for that, but I’m glad I leaned it,” she says. “That’s the kind of knowledge I can really use, and not just in my own subjects, but also as one of the adults in the school.”
Another thing she values from her studies at HDK-Valand is all the conversation about teaching with an open approach.
“We talked so much about that,” says Rebeca. “Instead of asking all the student to paint a bird in acrylic, the assignment might be to work with the theme of water. What happens then? What happens when we let the students choose the material and technique themselves?”
That’s a working method that serves her well in her role as an art teacher in upper secondary school.
“It was harder when I was working at secondary school,” she says. “There I was forced to go through the technique in a different way. There were students there who had practically never held a brush before. It’s not like that here.”
By Camilla Adolfsson
At HDK-Valand we have subject programmes for those who want to become a teacher in art or crafts.
The applications are open Mars 15 – April 17, 2023.
Our teacher education is only conducted in Swedish.