A recent post-observation meeting with one of my administrators got me thinking more about choice in art education being evidence of best practice. Obviously, I have been wrestling more with this concept and how it relates to my own in-class experience. Therefore, expect to read more about it as I work my way through this issue. Having said that here are some additional take-aways.
For me, educational research is a soft science. You take a Psych 101 class and, at the end, the ponderous number of modalities used to understand and ‘help’ people will make you dizzy. Education as a whole, including art education, does not always do a good job of taking that concept to heart. Pedagogy is not a hard-and-fast science. The unpredictable nature of children, the homes they come from, and the communities they live in make it all the more challenging to say we know for certain what is best for every kid everywhere.
Passionate Soft Speaking
Speaking softly when it comes to figuring out where you are on the choice-in-art-education spectrum does not mean you are not passionate about what you do. It means you seek to understand and be understood.
So, speak softly and:
- Strive for excellence regardless of your pro-choice, anti-choice or somewhere-in-between proclivities.
- Monitor your language as you speak about your own camp and those ‘on the other side’. Words can create dichotomies that cause people to get their guard up and feel backed into a corner.
- Be open to challenge your own preconceptions about what is best for your students (and yourself!). Try something new. Take a project and flip it on it’s head: teach it as you believe ‘the other camp’ would.
- Share your challenges (and successes!) when you try something new. There are art education blogs, Pinterest boards, and other forums across the Web that promote all different approaches to learning in an art space. Do some exploring and you will find people with insight to help you overcome that hurdle or help you know that you are not alone because something didn’t work quite right. Then, introduce yourself! Email opens us up to a world of help.
The Art of Education offers an online class aptly titled, Choice Based Art Education.