The Trouble With Art Class
Why is art class about completing projects, not about making art?
Why is art class about learning the rules, not about breaking them?
There is a better way. Plan activities that teach students how to think like artists. Let children use their own ideas. Give options and guidelines, not steps to follow. Develop voice. Build a classroom that's more like a makerspace than a factory. The student described above? I'd give her an A. I'd ask her about her inspiration and talk to her about her work. I'd help her with an challenges she's having and together we'd figure out how to bring her work to the next level. How else do you teach creativity?
2/20/2016 10:50:07 am
I plan the project, and while there are certain requirements to fulfill, the students have autonomy as to how they will fulfill them. One project is a dream home landscape. Students are required to submit at least two idea sketches, more if they feel the need but the final project is up to them. They are also required to show a dream home and a landscape. One student whose idea of a dream home is a space in a skyscraper asked how he was supposed to show the land around it and I suggested the views through the wall sized windows he was looking at! One of his idea sketches is very exciting. I can't wait to see what he comes up with in the end.
2/21/2016 07:05:11 am
What age group are we talking about? In elementary students are learning skills, rules... etc. They don't have the experience and some don't have the drive. I am all for including choices by students but when a student doesn't want to participate and continues to not contribute with a finished assignment for years what do you do?
2/21/2016 09:16:33 pm
When a student refuses to participate I have usually found a fear of failure..I have found success correcting this by inviting that student in during an informal lunchtime activity.. and offering some no pressure private lessons to help to build a bit of self esteem. When they meet with some success it is easy to bring that success into the classroom and things start to turn around.. That private time gives you a chance to know more about that student.. if they tell you they like cartooning .. you can sneak in a cartooning unit that allows that student's skills to shine.. It has worked every time!!
4/29/2016 09:43:00 am
I taught K to 9th grade students during my 35 year career. . I found this time to be the best to address skill and self esteem building. Have you sat down one on one with the student to address the problem? I often shared lunch with a student who refused to cooperate and got to know them a bit. We talked interests and likes and dislikes in life and in school. I often talked to other teachers to see if the student was doing the same thing in other classes. If I found out it was ONLY art I invited them back for a special lunch hour or after school session to work on skills. If the student was interested in car racing we drew cars, if they were into music we did a music related piece. so often the problem was an unwillingness to let others see their lack of skill. What always came out was "I just hate art". My next question was.. if you could do art , do you think you might hate it less?? These special sessions often worked and in a few weeks (if they were feeling more confident and some success) I could hang a piece of work done by this student for others to admire, building self esteem within the class as well. A win win for all involved! It was my goal to work with each reluctant student and give them a positive art experience so they became a functional member of class by semester's end!
2/21/2016 07:33:51 am
I agree with Ms. Purtee, after teaching K3 to 9th grade art classes for 36 years my greatest joy came when I was could enable students to "think" like an artist. My goal was help art become a means of communication for my students. When I developed an assignment I always built in elements of choice. The simplest choice (the shape and color of the paper you are going to work on) creates and artistic thought process for a student. I loved to ask a kindergarten student why did you choose the red triangle! The answers were always delightful. I took great joy when I hung the work because these choice elements meant no two pieces were alike. As long as the child is experiencing the necessary requirements of the assignment, the ability to make choices allows students to think like and artist and make every assignment their own!
2/21/2016 11:46:19 am
But how do you do that when the students have had no, and I mean no, prior experience with art. Some of them do not even have crayons at home. I have 5th graders who are in the preschematic stage of drawing and have no knowledge of how to use any materials. I'm not exaggerating. I agree that we should recognize and differentiate according to giftedness but there has to be a plan as a starting point. If there is not a plan, then it is just a free for all, babysitting with art materials.
2/22/2016 01:42:00 pm
Starting with children who have no experience is a great struggle but the rewards are many! Art is a great self esteem builder and often if they have success in art, it translates to a willingness to try in academic areas. You have to meets students where they are but you can't dump things down.. (especially 5th grade) you have to develop projects that look complicated but really are not. For example: give students a 8 by 9 rectangle of paper have them make a design on the paper. You can cut tagboard circles, triangles, squares for them to trace. They can connect some of the shapes with ruler lines. to break up the space.. Now staple a 8 by 9 piece of carbon paper on their design black side down. Now they draw over their design six times on a 18 x24 piece of paper! They will end up with a pretty complicated design without a lot of effort.. Outline with marker .. Could be colored with crayon demonstrate a how to .. Take small coloring strokes in small shapes, larger in big shapes.. Even more fun.. Mix a whole lot of really interesting tempra colors in babyfood jars. (turq, purples, pink, lime green etc) and let them paint the designs. Take one jar at a time..trade with a neighbor, or return to your table and trade.. Show the, work by other artists who used shape and color! Teach them how to hold a brush and how to paint in a shape. Hang their work with pride.. Build on their skills add new related materials (if they can use crayons they could use oil pastels and learn how to blent 2 colors) Make sketchbook out of scrap paper and have them make personal covers,, Give them drawing tasks to practice.. You will see them grow...Challenge them to make enough art so you can hang their work all the way to the office!! Show them some of your art work, so they can set goals!! You are right ..there always has to be a plan but you can easily adjust the plan to meet kids needs!!
3/7/2016 11:57:07 pm
That sounds like basically we are doing the same things just wording it differently. I leave things open-ended, give them options on materials, theme, subject matter, etc depending on my goals for the lesson. I guess I misunderstood the original post.
4/28/2016 09:51:30 pm
Hey there, first of all thank you so much for this post and honestly I was searching for the same information from last few days. Keep posting and keep sharing.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
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.