"What if art was taught not with absolutes, but with questions?
What if we gave choices instead of steps to follow?
What if we gave suggestions instead of answers?
In my high school Art 1 class, I start the year with Bootcamps, designed to develop skill with media and process. This week we worked through drawing. I gave students short experiences with a variety of drawing materials, with a group activity, independent work and "Draw Around the Room" (inspired by Diane Jaquith), where kids rotated through centers to experiment with different media.
I started the week with a question, asking students to spend the next two days deciding what drawing media they wanted to explore in a longer, finished artwork.
I included choice in demonstrations and process charts by giving examples of techniques and asking them to try a few.
When students had questions about how to do something I pointed them to the design section of Design Process Thinking. "Which of these options could help you here?" I asked.
Interesting things, things I couldn't have expected, started to happen. Fingerprints were used to fill in a background and chalk was filed to make a sky filled with stars. My students thought creativity and worked in individual styles as they experiment to find answers to the questions they need answered.
What happens when the teacher model is taken away?
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.