SchoolArts Magazine

October 2015

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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P O I N T O F V I E W Pla nd Creativit in Art Teaching W hen I started teaching in 1970, only "serious" sub- jects were discussed in education. It was heresy to talk about play—an activity that was only done at home and for a lim- ited time. Back then, schools had no time for creativity and no patience for those who wished to use their hands to explore and experiment. Teach- ers came to school prepared with the knowledge students were expected to learn. In those days, art was presented as something only done by the mas- ters. It was unusual to refer to chil- dren as artists. Supporting a Nation of Innovators What happened in the past forty-five years that allowed the conversation about play and innovation to flour- ish? Briefly, we changed as a country, turning from manufacturing goods to ideas. To support this change, I became an advocate, making flags and banners in my workshop to be placed above artroom doors, declaring that art class is the school's center for innovation. Play inventions became art inventions and the art class became a laboratory for building, tin- kering, and discovering new ideas. Why Is Play Important? The success of school art is related directly to play. Students who are allowed to play in an art class are not afraid of art. Creative players discover the elements of art and principles of design by working out problems in real time and space. The Play-Based Artroom A play-based art class is an explorato- rium—an adventure playground where students can try things on and try things out. Students bring their finds and treasures to class and can "shop" for materials and ideas amongst their peers' treasures. In the play-based artroom, every surface, space, and piece of furniture can be used to invite play, and it is up to the art teacher to envision how the room will inspire students to do so. The Play-Based Art Teacher Play-based art teaching is a visual performance. The play-based art teacher allows students to make their own artistic decisions rather than offering simple techniques or solu - tions to pre-planned projects. This way, students are better able to see a world filled with possibilities, and they are also more open to contribu - tions from their peers. In order to be successful, the play- based art teacher must pay close attention to each student and the details of his or her life. Students come to an artroom with remarkable art resumés that need recognition and expansion. Children's spaces—their lockers, bedrooms, and backyards— are model studios. The ways students play outside of school offer important clues for the artroom. In playing, young artists gain experience, confi- dence, and independence. George Szekely is area head and senior professor of art education at the Univer- sity of Kentucky and NAEA President Elect. gszek01@ George Szekely A pla -based art class is an exploratorium; an adventure pla ground where students can tr hings on and tr things out. The artroom should be a laboratory for building, tinkering, and discovering new ideas. 14 OCTOBER 2015 SchoolArts

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