Oxford Dictionaries describes ‘education’ as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. This seems rather dry and uninspiring, but if you scroll down a bit, there is another definition: an enlightening experience, as in “Petrus is a good workman—it is an education to watch him”.
Wouldn’t you rather have an enlightening experience? As an art teacher, I can’t imagine how a “systematic instruction” would promote original thought and creative expression from my students. I also don’t understand how it would respect their individuality, their preferences and their strengths.
Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2 (Official Music Video) from BigDaddyAEL1964 on Vimeo.
Teaching for Artistic Behavior helps to encourage teachers who value their students’ inherent strengths, interests and preferences in the classroom. Rather than prescribing projects that treat a group of students as a homogeneous entity, TAB recognizes that learners are individuals, and can help to navigate their own educational experience.
Presently, I am just ending the fourth week of classes in our new semester. For every grade nine art course I have ever taught, I begin by introducing the Elements of Design along with several small assignments and handouts that complement basic composition. This year, rather than digging around in my old binder for convenient photocopies, I introduced a project that connected line with music. Students have been given free-reign with materials, as long as they document their creative process using their digital portfolio. We’ve also discussed a few success criteria to make sure that we know what is important for our learning.
So now, instead of having a series of worksheets that have been coloured and completed, there are a group of creators in my class. For this very first art project of their high school career, they are taking risks, trying new techniques, new materials, and sharing their ideas. …and I’m completely inspired by them.
This one project has such a variety of activities in my class: one student is hoping to share his love of pow wow dancing by using photography to capture a variety of different poses in regalia; another student is transferring photocopied basketball images onto a basketball to make a sculpture; another group of students has chopped up their hockey sticks, designed a mini ice rink, and is planning on pouring water onto their sculpture to have ice as part of their design; another group is printmaking using their skate blades and laces… holy cow! This is so much more exciting than worksheets!