If you haven't see Cindy Foley's TEDx Talk you really should watch it.
In it she calls out art education on a pervasive myth: that we teach creativity.
We don't, at least not as much as we should. Foley argues that the push for testable, quantifiable content that has resulted from the standardized testing movement has cause art education to focus overly on things that can be measured - like the elements and principles of art, art history and foundational skills. I believe it's also caused us to subvert our educational goals in order to prove our value, especially in elementary art, by including so many "connections" - to history, math, language arts - that the art ends up as almost beside the point.
It should be the opposite. We have to give our kids "the capacity to think creatively", which means putting away any lesson plan with a pre-determined product and instead focusing on challenges with some ambiguity where students have to plan and follow their own path. When our projects connect with other subjects it should be natural and organic, not forced, and stem from student's specific and individual. interests.
We must provide a line of inquiry for them to follow until they can ask their own questions.
Skills still play a role but we have to assess honestly what that role should be. For me it depends on the student. Traditional oil techniques and classical portraiture are essential for Kehinde Wiley's work but are less important for an artist like Patrick Dougherty. Yes, it's important for all artists to be exposed to or at least aware of a variety of mediums and techniques. However, when we ask students to learn specific art-making knowledge in depth it should be to further their own vision, not ours.
We also need to establish a classroom culture that supports creative thinking by encouraging play and experimentation. We can no longer base lessons on the product, just as we can't just focus solely on the process. Instead we have to encourage the collection of ideas and give kids the tools to develop and express them. "This is what we are going to do today" has to be replaced with "What do you want to say?" because the real meat of what we do, or should, is getting kids to the answer.
I'm interested in creating a student student centered space for my high school students through choice and abundant opportunity for self expression. I'm also a writer for SchoolArts co-author of The Open Art Room.