SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Point of View Choice-Based Art Education Responds John Crowe, Kathy Douglas, Clyde Gaw, Nan Hathaway, and Diane Jaquith I n response to "Should We Be Concerned" in the April 2008 issue of SchoolArts, Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) practitioners respond to questions raised by Ken Vieth and Dan Bush: 1. How does choice-based art education differ from the classic laissezfaire art programs of the past? In choice-based programs, all students are problem-finders who develop their ideas and follow a line of inquiry. The open-ended structure allows students to work as artists do, developing and refining their expression over time. Student decision-making requires many higher-order thinking skills. Students reflect on their learning through discussions, journals, portfolio reviews, and exhibitions. 2. To what extent is the teacher's attention divided by the number and diversity of problems arising from the multiple activity centers? Studio centers contain materials and references that have been introduced to the whole class in concise demonstrations. Menus (lists of procedures), vocabulary, and visuals provide support; students are also coached in a variety of problem-solving approaches. 3. How can the teacher provide for students who need greater structure? Successful student-centered learning requires complex planning and ongoing assessment. Studio centers provide strong structure for differentiation with written and illustrated directions, flexibility with materials and varied options for working styles. Because the majority of students are working independently, the choice teacher is free to instruct in small groups or one-on-one. 16 4. How does the teacher deal with students who choose to handle subject matter deemed as inappropriate for the school setting? Likeallgoodteachingprofessionals, choice teachers discuss subject matter in a developmentally appropriate manner. Students who are interested in topics considered "inappropriate" are encouraged to pursue their interests in their home studios. 5. How can the teacher foster the making of expressive art by students who are working in a variety of different media? If a student's artwork is authentically expressive, the teacher does not need to "foster" its making; instead, the teacher responds to the needs of the artist. Choice teachers know and value students' ideas as central to their art-making. 6. How much of the teacher's responsibility should be dedicated to teaching the technical proficiencies and lower-order skills, such as how to join together two slabs of clay, or how to mix paint? When students work independently as opposed to following a lesson plan, what they know and can do is immediatelyevident.Largeandsmall group instruction is flexible, addressing technical and higher-order skills. 7. Does the compartmentalized environment of the multi-activity centered artroom diminish opportunities for sharing and group problem-solving on a class-wide basis? No. The learning environment is organized into studio centers, which students access freely as their chosen work evolves. Students collaborate with one another naturally, sharing strategies and ideas throughout class. "Should We Be Concerned" in the April 2008 issue of SchoolArts. 8. Is the choice model more or less effective in helping students meet established state and national standards for art education? It is no more and no less effective than any other good art program. The professional teacher covers visual art standards through instruction, assessment, and careful curriculum planning. In teacher-directed art programs, how do students meet standards related to choosing materials and subject matter? John Crowe, Ph.D. is associate professor of art education at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Katherine Douglas teaches art education at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. Clyde Gaw is a choice art teacher in the New Palestine, Indiana Public Schools. Nan Hathaway is fine arts focus teacher at the Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted and Creative in Boulder, Colorado. Diane Jaquith is a choice art teacher in the Newton, Massachusetts public schools. Web LinkS

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