Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ten Classroom Creativity Killers - Part 2

Here is the second part of my reflections on  Marvin Bartel's article Ten Classroom Creativity Killers (2001, revised 2012).  
A monkey with a 3D pop-out tail

6.  I Kill Creativity when I Praise Neatness and Conformity more than Expressive Original work. 

I think this point took me a long time to grasp.  I so wanted beautiful works of art that can be hung in the school, but by what means?  It is much more important that learning is happening in my classroom than students are creating a production line of cookie-cutter images.  And, honestly, I feel the artwork coming out of my room is so much better!  Sometimes the craftsmanship is not as high but the intent and exploration makes them extremely intriguing and relevant.  

monster art! 

7.  I Kill Creativity when I give Freedom without Focus

I think, and please correct me if I am wrong, that this is Bartel pushing back against TAB classrooms.  Some people feel a choice art class is total chaos; students simply playing with materials having no focus or direction.  To this I counter:  my classroom is incredibly focused.  Every student has a set path, a plan, a concept, and is relating their artwork to specific aspects of their visual culture.  But, I allow my students to find their own focus.  A large part of my instructional time is spent teaching students to understand what they are passionate about and how they can create artwork about their passions.   I spend more time teaching this than anything else, including artistic techniques (develop craft).  By not giving students specific focus, I make them more creative.

Cowboy boot, We are in Colorado afterall

8.  I Kill Creativity by Making Suggestions instead of asking Open Questions.

Some students really just want to be told what to do, even in my Choice Based classroom.  The challenge for an art teacher is to find ways to let their students find their own solutions.  Open questions makes the artist consider their artwork, and evaluate what specific solutions could be.  Often when a student asks me for help on a project I will simply say, "I don't know, what do you think?"  Or when they show me their artwork, looking for approval, I will say, "Looking good! Don't stop now!" or "That is a good start!" (even if they have been working on the artwork for months - evil laugh!)  Although they usually get frustrated with my open ended responses, it forces them to evaluate their own artwork and determine what works for them.

Cute little clay turtle.   

9.  I Kill Creativity if I Give an Answer instead of teaching Problem Solving experimentation methods.

Again, I feel this is TAB.  I am not here to give answers, because there are no correct answers in art.  There are also no incorrect answers.  There are only answers,  and that is beautiful.  I am the problem solving class.  I am the experimentation class.

Inspired by lithograph hanging in my classroom

10.  I Kill Creativity if I allow students to copy other artists rather than learning to read their minds. 

This one feels like a double-edged sword to me.  I love the idea of reading student's minds, although it is impossible.  Once I try to anticipate what my student and wanting or thinking I am already wrong.  I need to play off what they tell and show is important to them.  Copy is a nasty word, and I do not encourage copying.  Appropriation is a yummy word, and I will take appropriation any day of the week.  For example, the picture on the right was done by a fourth grade student after looking at one of the posters in my classroom.  We spoke about how he could change it to make it his own and, man, just look at the thing.  I love it, and really does look completely different from the original.

Congratulations!  you made it though a very long, rambling double-post.  What do you think about Marvin Bartel's article Ten Classroom Creativity Killers?  How do you foster creativity in your classroom?

No comments:

Post a Comment