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Is it Creative?

Follow a middle school art teacher’s blog about his journey to enhance creative thinking in the art classroom.
by

Adam VanHouten

on 8 October 2012

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Transcript of Is it Creative?

Is it Creative? http://creativeartroom.wordpress.com/ http://miarted.blogspot.com/ I believe that teachers must inspire and guide students to use their gifts of creativity. Many art lessons and art classrooms are not run by a culture of creativity, but a culture of “organization” or “manageability.” As art teachers we do this because 1) we teach a lot of students and 2) we deal with a lot of materials and supplies. Doesn't art also need to teach about skill and technique? http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/07/07/the-educational-value-of-creative-disobedience/ Links and Quotes “When the teacher instructed the children and gave them a working sequence, they were able to replicate that correct response effectively. Some would say that the children “learned” that information. But what did they learn to do? They learned to imitate. The fact that they generated the less intelligent response immediately, then stopped looking for alternate solutions, is quite troubling to me. Yet this is the type of behavior is expected and encouraged in most schools. Do we want children to learn how a system works, exploring lots of possible solutions—even if some of them fail—or to merely copy one “correct” method of arriving at a solution? What happens if that one solution stops working? Then what? Introduction In his book Treasures of the Creative Spirit Robert Piepenburg writes, “… I had a number of art teachers (who you’d expect to knowingly understand the dynamics of creativity) who felt that techniques and procedures always had to come first; that one had to “have” before they could “be.” When I say to people in the community that I teach art everyone always remarks what a “creative” subject art is. It seems that many view the subject of art itself as being creative. But can it be taught in a way that is not creative? I certainly remember lessons and times in my teaching when I know that I wasn’t inspiring students to think for themselves or tapping into their creative insights. Do you think that their are teachers who as Piepenburg states, “mistakes” techniques and procedures for the art? In what ways do we run the risk of “permanently damaging students creative drive”? Do I want my students to think that art is all about techniques and procedures? These are the questions that keep me awake at night. "It just seems that with so many choices students don’t know where to start. They are so used to being told what to draw that they have no idea how to come up with their own art ideas. It may take awhile but I am hoping that my students will make an attempt to find their own art ideas, come up with art problems to solve, and ask questions." Choice If students are to be creative they must have confidence. Confidence that they are creating something of importance and confidence that they have the skills to create it. If students feel they don’t have the skills then it is a good thing to do some exercises and practice art that allows student to build their artistic skills which leads to greater creativity and freedom to make your own art. Creative Confidence When I look at my students I need to get past the “mask” that many of these students put on and see how every student has the creativity and potential in art class to create and be a unique individual. I sincerely believe that everyone has the potential to think creatively. Creative Potential "One thing that I am going to do is to play more music during class... When I went to Western Michigan University I had my own art studio and music was a staple as I painted and created art. Most of the artists in the studios listened to music— music without art seems bland to me. What ways do you enhance your classroom environment? Do you think this has an effect on student creativity?" "Creative Culture" What if every artwork you have ever done was graded? Would they all be A’s? I know that some of my paintings would get less than favorable marks… but I learned from those paintings and those paintings led me to paintings that did work. I believe that it is unfair to students that every art piece be graded. Grading I believe that art is a performance. It is one that is typically done in private but the resulting artwork nonetheless was completed out of an act a kind of visual performance by the artist. What I am really looking for are students to take ownership over their art. This is something that can’t be explained by an A,B,C or D grade. I also acknowledge grading and the evaluation of students as complex. It is complex because each of our students are unique individuals who have their styles, aesthetics, gifts and artistic methods. How can a letter grading system fit the complexity of our students and what they bring to school? For some students school is drudgery and what they experience at home isn’t something that they want to express to their peers at school. Creating art is a very psychological process and to be honest and truly express in artwork something that your going through takes a lot of courage, honesty and belief in yourself. ... It is Psychological Most of my philosophy in art education revolves around the belief that students should take on the role of artist and as such should be treated as artists. Students are artists As art teachers we must allow students to be their own artists, and experience the process for themselves. And yes the product won’t be as “adult looking” but the learning that students receive and the empowerment they feel will fuel their art well beyond their current class or grade. http://creativeartroom.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/yes-art-teachers-are-artists-but-students-are-also-artists/ Structured Freedom “In creative teaching, assignment limitations provide a way to change the student’s habits of work. When a student isn’t allowed to repeat a familiar pathway into the work, additional creative effort is expended to succeed. So long as the difficulty level is reasonable, new learning happens. A new approach is learned.”
--Marvin Bartel--
Throughout my graduate studies I have come to the conclusion that giving students more choices would give them more creative freedom allowing them to be more creative. Bartel states that this can back fire and that when students have freedom of choice they will always rely on familiar images and ways of creating art. So Bartel sees assignment limitations as a to give students a knudge into creative possibilities. Creative
Communication The fact is writing like art is just another tool to communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings. Throughout time both writers and artists have worked together to influence each other and come up with creative ideas. What if Modgiliani or Picasso was a student in my classroom? How would they behave? I am not sure if it is the movie is historically accurate but the movie depicts Modgiliani as prone to alcohol/drug use, frequent outburts in public, initating fights and feuds with other artists. Does this sound familiar? And we consider these artists to be masters and geniuses today. How many genius, creative minds do we have in our classroom that are behavior problems? If we viewed them as creative artists rather than “problem students” would our reactions and attitude towards them change? what if that student who is always disruptive in your class is the next great artist of the century? "From my own experience and those artists that I talk to… being creative takes drive, passion and a lot of internal motivation. Creativity does not just show up and happen. The artist must conjure up all his strength, focusing on the positive and pour his whole soul into his work."

--VanHouten, Blog Entry January 2012 Sometimes I get a little annoyed by that student that does not seem to get the project and who strays from where the class is going. But what is to going to hurt? As a creative artist I always thought that to have students be creative was to give them the space and freedom for creativity to flourish— and for many art teachers that creates a very loose classroom environment. I struggled first semester with many of my students. It wasn’t all of the students but it was enough to make the classroom environment tense. It wasn’t a place where students could act creatively. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/galleries/2010/07/10/creativity-test.html#slide1 I often hear teachers talk about students creativity saying, “Well, he is a very creative person…” or “She is not very creative… ” What makes those students creative or not creative? How do we come to label these students this way? And why is the term ”creativity” synonymous with “artistic?” Can’t a scientist also be creative? I make it a point to never pigeon-hole a student with the “creativity label.” I believe that ALL of my students have the capacity to be creative. http://creativeartroom.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/cartoon-assessments/ This is probably the most essential and difficult question to answer. Everyone has a unique idea of what creativity is and how to make creativity happen in the art classroom. If you asked your students, “What is Creativity? would their answer be similar or different from yours? As an art teacher you have a definition of creativity (whether you know it or not). This definition guides your practice and actions as a teacher and greatly affects how your students begin to develop their own ideas about art and creative thinking. So what does “creativity” mean to you?! Creativity takes confidence. It takes a lot of belief in yourself to take risks and try something new and different. "Yes, the “how-to” part of art making is important, but not when it is mistaken for the art; not when it subverts our intuitions and overruns creative insight. What happens with some art teachers is that they become perfunctorily involved with construction details and never get around to honoring the work’s source or purpose. Without a willingness to trust that the methods can readily and excitedly be derived for actualizing visions, they run the risk of permanently damaging the creative drive in students.”
--Robert Piepenburg, "Treasures of the Creative Spirit"-- Creative Drive? What does the Word "Creativity" mean to you? Classroom Perception Motivating Factors 2004-2005 Elementary 6th Grade How do we bring a culture of creativity to the forefront of an art classroom? Why do we even need to teach creativity? How do you get students to make art choices that are meaningful and relevant to them?" What classroom ‘structures’ work best to involve students in creative thinking? How many limitations should we give students? What freedoms should they have? Some students get down on themselves about their art... they feel it just isn't good enough? What do we want our students to "be"? Creative Confidence
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