As art teachers we claim to love creativity. We talk of it's virtues and the importance of instilling it in our children. We hold examples of the truly great artists of the ages up as paragons of genius for students to aspire to.
Then we plan the steps in advance. We cut out paper shapes and mix the perfect color in little cups. We even determine the subject matter, taking works of art that represent the essence of a people or deep personal expression and turn them into flimsy replicas removed from their cultural or expressive meaning.
Worse, we call what students are doing "creative" when "following the steps" would be a more apt description.
Do art teachers like the idea of art better than it's actual creation?
We owe it to our kids to give them the chance to innovate and with it room to fail, to make a mess, to start over. Teaching creativity is so much more than learning skills, it's learning resilience and developing vision. To do this we have to put the art back in art education and facilitate work in the studio instead of planning projects.
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.