Alison Harris taught 8th grade science for nine years before returning to Sonoma State University to study painting and drawing and earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts. Harris then went on to get both a teaching credential and Masters of Education in Curriculum Design at National University as well as a Master of Fine Arts at California State University, Long Beach. She says teaching art is the most engaging teaching experience she has had because the discipline of teaching art lends itself to one-on-one teaching.
In foundation classes, she emphasizes how to look deeply at objects while introducing other aspects of visual communication. At the foundation level, Harris' classes are focused on skill development and problem solving. Students work on assigned projects both in the classroom and for homework. Harris knows critiques are important in this setting because they give students exposure to each other's work and the endless variation among individuals. She believes it is the perfect time to teach students how art work is evaluated and allows them to develop a 'mental library' about what is important to them. Once students enter their junior and senior years, they work on executing their own ideas.
Harris tries to provide each student with the tools necessary to find a unique voice for their art. She considers art making a process of discovery and that artists are hardworking, independent, brave, visionary, smart and knowledgeable of art history. Her overall goal in teaching is to create an environment where each student becomes aware of his or her own individual artistic vision.