Matthew Sutherlin

Chair/Assistant Professor, Curriculum and Instruction

“Growth comes from learning from your mistakes. You can’t learn what already makes sense, you can only learn from struggling with something that does not make sense.”

From earning an undergraduate degree in painting to becoming chair and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Henderson State, Matthew Sutherlin says he followed an untraditional route to becoming an educator.

After receiving a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Central Arkansas, Sutherlin obtained his M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and decided to teach at the public school level.

He earned his Ph.D. in art education from the University of North Texas. Sutherlin taught at Stephen F. Austin State University and the Maryland Institute College of Art before joining Henderson State in 2014.

“I came to Henderson because I had taught in Massachusetts, Texas and Maryland, but never in my home state of Arkansas,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference in the way teachers are prepared based on my experiences in a variety of other educational contexts.”

Sutherlin said his favorite aspect of teaching is the “oops” moment.

“What I mean by that is that I want students to fail better and fail faster. This is the only way that a student can truly learn, by doing,” he said. “I believe that students have to construct meaning for themselves through investigations that are both mental and physical.

“All in all, I would describe my teaching style as that of being the ‘meddler in the middle,’ that nagging voice that says what if you did this or did that. It forces students to think outside the box and begin to start asking those same questions for themselves.”

Sutherlin said he finds it very satisfying when students leave as “fully capable and confident teachers who are ready to revolutionize teaching.”

Graduates with a degree in middle school education will have a license to teach middle level grades 4-8, Sutherlin said.

“If they like working with students who are just coming into their own in terms of their identity and sense of self, middle-level education is the perfect place for them,” he said.

If he hadn’t pursued a teaching career, Sutherlin said he might have been involved in the film or amusement park industry.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be an animator or a Disney Imagineer,” he said.

Curriculum and Instruction

Contact Info:

Degree and School:
Ph.D, Art Education, University of North Texas

- New Media/Technology
- Visual Culture
- Connected Learning

I've been at Henderson since: