This past fall, recent graduate Laura Keeney (MA Art Education ‘14) presented her capstone project, Where Are You From? Art Education for Third Culture Kids. As an international school educator, Keeney works with students and colleagues from all over the world. A self-described “global nomad,” she moves internationally every two to four years and began working in international schools in Casablanca, Morocco, where she taught students from more than 30 countries. It was there she noticed the delicate intricacies of teaching such a wide student body with such varied experiences and backgrounds.
“I began to question how I could [and] should be serving these students that may be a bit different, and tailored especially for their unique lifestyle,” Keeney says.
Known as “Third Culture Kids” (TCK), these students grow up internationally within a mobile, multi-layered, multicultural world often separate from their parents’ culture. Keeney herself started to notice how her own mobility affected her life and relationships. This led her to begin reading about international school students where she learned about TCK. Her goal was to find connections between TCK research and art education that would shed light on how to educate these students, considering their unique situation.
“I started on my own journey of discovering major themes within TCK and art education research that seemed to overlap and possibly answer my question,” Keeney says. “From there, I began contacting artists that were once TCKs and spoke with them about how their work was influenced by their life as a TCK and how it helped them deal with issues and struggles that came along with being a globally mobile student in the world.”
Keeney’s curriculum involves the talents of six professional contemporary artists who have shown her first-hand how her research in connecting TCK’s and art education overlaps. She feels she is now able to create an outlet of exploration and discovery in the art education classroom designed just for these students.
“[These artists] have amazing insight as to what it actually feels like to grow up and live among many different worlds, creating a unique connection between them, their artwork and my students,” says Keeney. “I feel this is the most successful element of my project, and gives me the perfect stepping stone in which to extend a bridge between the two fields of research and open this world up to my students.”