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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Does Choice Really Matter?

This year, the art teachers at Apex High School incorporated a few new teaching concepts into the class room. Influenced by TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) and class choice, the students were given more freedom to make decisions about the art they would make and the materials they would select. 

As teachers, we enthusiastically posted the what, why and how of our new process. We received many questions and comments from other teachers. Some shared our excitement while others were more skeptical. However, the one piece that was missing from all this was the student’s reaction.

As part of a final blog post assignment, it was suggested that we ask the students for their opinion. Here is the question as it posted:

This semester we introduced a new way of teaching and learning. Students had choices in subject matter and materials. Explain your thoughts on how effective this was (or if it was not) to your learning experience in this course. Provide examples through your art projects so we can see evidence of your learning.

The responses we received from the students were overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few of their answers:

I really enjoyed the new style of learning. I was able to to explore many different mediums and styles. I even did unassigned projects. I also learned about using multiple mediums to create one piece of art. I used acrylic and spray paint on my "sticky situation" project. The freedom the new way of teaching allowed me to do this.

The new method of learning art introduced to us this semester is easily one of the best methods to learn creativity and to expand horizons. I think the ability to choose a medium and your subject allows for greater creativity and encourages taking risks. If I were told what medium I should use or what subject to depict, I would never have learned how to use plaster and wax.

I thought that allowing students to pick the subject of the project and the medium was so much more effective then having a set subject. By letting us decide what our project was going to be you got 30 unique different art projects instead of 30 projects that all look very similar. 

My experience in Art 1 wasn't great because my teacher didn't allow me to really do anything I wanted to when it came to the composition of my pieces. I was almost considering not moving on to Art 2, because I thought I was just going to be told what to do for every piece again. It wasn't very fun for me to create art that I didn't have a say in. But I'm really glad that I did go to Art 2, and now I even want to move on to Art 3

This change in teaching was critical to my learning experience in this course. In Art 1 last year I learned how to make perspective, how to blend pastels, and draw the same piece of fruit as the rest of the class. While that was helpful, it did not allow for very much creativity. So when I came to class I was still in the Art 1 mindset. After a few days passed I realized that I was not going to be told what to draw or paint and no idea would be put down. I would never have produced the projects I did this year in an environment like the one in Art 1. As stated before, the biggest things I learned this year was how to take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, and experiment with new materials.

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