SchoolArts Magazine

Summer 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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T H E O P E N A R T R O O M Ian Sands T he legs feed the wolf," I yell so I can be heard across the class- room. My students know what I 'm talking about. They know I lifted the line from a character named Brooks in the movie Miracle. Brooks, the coach of the 1980s Olympic hockey team, used the phrase to keep his team members moving forward. Though it's a strange saying, the meaning is clear. If the wolf doesn't continue to move his legs, he doesn't catch his prey. I use the line to motivate my students when they reach the sticking point. Two Reasons Students Quit The sticking point is something every artist encounters. It occurs when an artist begins a work but decides to quit before they are done. This stick- ing point takes place for two reasons. In the first scenario, students begin working with much enthusiasm. They have a vision of what they wish to cre- ate in their head but soon realize what t hey have laid out on paper doesn't reflect this vision. They become dis- couraged. They think, "This isn't w hat I wanted. This isn't turning out how I envisioned. I'm giving up." In the second scenario, students also begin with enthusiasm. This time their initial efforts surpass their expectations. What they have produced is some of their best work. Even though the work isn't finished, they freeze. They cannot move on for fear of messing up what they have already created. Ways to Move Forward In a traditional art program, students don't have much freedom to quit. If they don't complete a project, they are penalized, most often through grading. Students in an Open Art Room, however, have more freedom. If a student chooses to start a proj - ect, she or he has the same right to q uit one without consequence. Art teachers know abandoning a work of art isn't the best course of action. We understand that if students will persist, they will realize the benefits. But students don't see it that way. In both scenarios mentioned above, the student has stopped work- ing. Though yelling, "The legs feed the wolf!" seems motivating, I wondered if there was a better method. I decided to ask my students what might really help them surpass the sticking point. Here, in their words, is what I learned: Nadia: A teacher can help me move beyond a sticking point by offering suggestions on how to improve the piece. If I don't want to continue working on my project because I don't like how it looks, having the teacher explain what to do to make it better can get me going again. Mackenzie: Sometimes I just need a break from it. I'll put it away and start working on something new. Then, when I come back to it, I can sometimes see the problem. The Sticking Point If the wolf doesn't continue to move his legs, he doesn't catch his pre . CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. 12 SUMMER 2017 SchoolArts

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