SchoolArts Magazine

JAN 2014

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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Managing the artrooM A Climate of Creativity Enid Zimmerman H ave you ever questioned whether or not you are a creative art teacher? Creativity is not a fixed trait; it can be nurtured and developed as art teachers meet challenges daily in their personal and professional lives. Artistic creativity has been defined as a range of processes that include knowledge of art concepts and traditions in a culture, highly developed visual thinking skills, and intrinsic motivation. Problem-finding, problemshaping, problem-solving, and an ability to focus on finding a personal vision are relevant throughout a creative teacher's successful engagements with art-making and art teaching. Without supportive teaching and instructional strategies, students will have limited opportunities to develop their own creativity. In art class, as in any other school subject, there is not one method of creative teaching to ensure a positive impact on a student's creativity. In all phases of teaching for creativity—from ideation through artmaking—focus always should be on the student. From Learner to investigator Some general strategies for promoting creativity include transforming students from learners to active investigators who hunt for information, make connections, and then construct their own knowledge. Students will learn to use unfamiliar materials that lead to new ideas; focus on process as well as product; promote structured tasks for skill-building and open-ended, unstructured tasks for self-expression; and create a body of their own work so they can develop personal themes in-depth. generating a Supportive environment Generating a supportive educational environment involves an emphasis on student meaning-making as a prolonged engagement with a problem. It also involves encouraging playful- ness without constraints; encouraging risk-taking by experimenting freely with materials and ideas; and promoting deep involvement, passion, and imagination. Such a supportive educational environment can introduce security, openness, and expressive freedom; enable self-directed work with choice options; emphasize trusting students' capacities to generate surprising conclusions; support a climate that is individualized and cooperative; and reach beyond local communities to make contact with communities outside everyday encounters. extrinsic vs. intrinsic outcomes skills and materials are needed to It is apparent today that students need express personal ideas because these to be prepared for a new informaare good and worthwhile in and of tion age that sustains interventions themselves. in art education by fostering creative thinking, imagination, and innovaMaking Meaningful Choices tion. Creativity can be viewed as an Supporting creativity in art classrooms outcome-based experience or one that involves encouraging all students to is transformational. It is often observed share processes they experience when to be valuable mostly for its extrinsic creating their artworks. It also involves outcomes, such as allowing students for the production of In all phases of teaching to make meaningful new products, techchoices so that art for creativity—from nology, economic can become cogideation through artentrepreneurship, nitively stimulatmaking—focus always and to offset routine ing and important work and standardshould be on the student. in their lives. Art ized assessments. teachers, therefore, From this point of view, creativity is can be powerful influences in developneeded to ensure that students recoging their students' creative art abilities. nize art as a vehicle of social transforArt teachers have major roles to play mation. in our increasingly visual world by Creativity also can be viewed as an encouraging all students' creativity, in-process, intrinsic, transformational innovation, and imaginations. experience. In this way, each student Enid Zimmerman is professor emerita of has access to experiences that embody art education and current organizer of self-expression and can create a body of high-ability programs at the School work based on his or her own abilities of Education at Indiana University. zimmerm@indiana.edu and concerns. Understandings about schoolartsonline.com 11

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