A place to see what is happening in Fine Arts at Rocky Mountain School for the Gifted and Creative

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Teaching for Artistic Behavior

(Computer aided drawing by 8-yr old S, sent to me by e-mail over the summer. )
Choice Based Art Education:Teaching for Artistic Behavior
My friend, colleague and mentor, Kathy Douglas (retired Art educator of 35 years), stresses tirelessly that TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) means teaching for artistic behavior, not teaching artistic behavior. This appears to be a minor detail, but she feels that artistic behavior is nurtured and provided for, not taught. Dr. George Betts, my professor at The University of Northern Colorado and developer of The Autonomous Learner Model is a kindred spirit to Kathy. He feels very strongly that we should refer to students not as “students” but as “learners.”
Learning implies autonomy, individual purpose and active pursuit of knowledge. To “facilitate learners” is different from “teaching subject matter”. A colleague reminded me this summer that she teaches “students” not “art”. With that in mind, the following list is interesting to consider. It was not created for art educators, but for all teachers in all domains. (It can be found on the Colorado Department of Education website listed below.)
As we embark on a new year in the art studio at RMS, it is gratifying and re-assuring to find this list and to notice how well the concept of choice-based art education aligns with best practices in gifted education.
(Excited to begin anew)

Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do to enhance creativity in my classroom?
• Provide a private place for creative work to be done.
• Provide materials (e.g. musical instruments, sketch books, scientific instruments).
• Encourage self-expression and display the students’ creative work.
• Create a creative atmosphere with good music, books, and pictures.
• Do your own creative work.
• Value the unusual, the divergent, and the creative work of others.
• Provide special classes.
• Emphasize that talent is only a small part of creative production and that discipline and
practice are important.
• Get creativity training.
• Reduce anxiety in classroom, especially that created by the teachers.
• Nurture individuation and differences within the class.
• Provide situations that present incompleteness and openness.
• Allow and encourage lots of questions.
• Emphasize self-initiated exploring, observing, questioning, feeling, classifying, recording,
translating, inferring, testing inferences, and communication.
• Help the student learn by mistakes.
• Reinforce creativity, but do not place too high a reward on it, as this makes creative behavior
“high stakes” and increases anxiety.
• Give opportunities to investigate ideas of successful, eminent people who used the creative
What are some blocks to creativity?
• Expectation of judging and evaluating.
• Constantly being watched or observed while working on a creative project.
• Creating a competitive atmosphere.
• Conforming to others’ expectations.
• Anxiety.
• Perfectionism.
• Reward systems.
• Authoritarianism.
• External locus of control.
• Trying to be creative.
• Requiring the one right answer.
Can creativity be taught?
We can teach some of the aspects and skills of creative behavior. We can model creative acts and
attitudes. We can provide safe places for creativity to be expressed, and value its expression. We
can take the risk of sharing our own creativity. Six real-life results of creativity training in
elementary and high schools were reported by Torrance (1985). The results were increased
satisfaction; evidence that academic achievement is not affected by creative performance; writing
more creatively in different genres (one student even wrote a novel); growth in personality and
the acquisition of a healthy self-concept; improvement in attitudes toward mathematics; and an
openness to pursue creative choices.

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