SchoolArts Magazine

February 2017

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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Ian Sands Surpass Good and Achieve Great T H E O P E N A R T R O O M created to demonstrate an expected level of skill. The challenge becomes having students create beyond a stan- dard level when they are unfamiliar with the levels available. The follow- ing are three methods to help stu- dents surpass good and achieve great: 1: Fill Their Creative Bank Accounts A video by Jake Parker titled Your Creative Bank Account has recently gone viral in art teacher circles. The video emphasizes the advantages of filling our minds with inspiration. If we want students to think and work outside the box, then we as teachers must first do the same. This means keeping abreast on the latest hap- penings in the art world. Spend time each week perusing websites such as Colossal ( ), Bored Panda ( ), and Art21 ( ). Seek con- temporary artists and artworks to share with your students. Sharing your findings can be a class activity or be more personalized by sitting down with individual students and present- ing artwork that relates directly to their specific project. 2: Suggest Materials and Techniques Since students don't know what they don't know, it is even more important for us to inform them of the possibili- ties. Working with a familiar medium m ay not necessarily be a decision the student makes by choice, but rather M y alma mater, the School of Visual Arts in New York City, had a slogan that was printed on their promotional posters that read, "Being good is not enough when you dream of being great." It's a thought art teachers can relate to not only with their own work, but more importantly with that of their students. Art teachers aspire for rich artwork from their students but are often frus- trated when the results are less than spectacular. Some art teachers face this concern as they transition into a choice-based program. They may notice that their high-school students' work looks, well, like high-school student work. How do we motivate students to not settle for good, but to create something great? Surpassing the Standard Level To begin with, we cannot confuse the results of teacher-directed art with the look of authentic student work. Student-directed work, when com- pared to teacher-designed projects, tends to look less polished. The pol- ished look is often the outcome of the students following a teacher-created exemplar. Choice teachers often elim- inate the exemplar with the presump- tion that by removing limitations, students will surpass expectations, going beyond a predetermined skill level. However, exemplars are often because they aren't aware of other options. Having experience and under- standing of a variety of resources a llows us to make recommendations for materials and techniques the stu- dent may not be familiar with. Look f or opportunities to suggest options. For students who created small abstract paintings, suggest that they learn to stretch a large canvas. When we see a well-done line drawing, rec - ommend etching or relief-printing. If s tudents show an interest in fashion, pull out the sewing machine and have them consider fabricating a new outfit. 3: It's Okay to Say No Taking risks can be an uncomfortable situation. However, it can also lead to remarkable growth. Left to their own devices, students won't often stretch beyond their comfort zones. We frequently need to push them out of their proverbial nests. If students propose project ideas that present little growth potential, don't be afraid to say no. Ask them to develop their idea(s) further. As mentioned, sug- gest materials and techniques they might not have considered and pres- ent other artists to enlarge and inspire their creative bank accounts. Don't let them settle for good—ask them to achieve great. Ian Sands is a visual arts instructor at South Brunswick High School in South- port, North Carolina. If we want students to think and work outside the box, then we as teachers must first do the same. 14 FEBRUARY 2017 SchoolArts

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