Good and Bad Art Teaching Practices
Art 309: Art for Children, Spring, 1999
© Marvin Bartel, instructor

E ssay
A nswer
N umber
O ne
from first test,
February 11, 1999.
  • This is an example of a knowledgeable answer that I am publishing here directly from a student paper. It is offered here for your review. There were also several other fine essays. Some also answered with numbered lists that were well done and received full credit.

  • Arial font and [ ] brackets enclose are my clarification comments.

  • essay item 1. List bad art teaching practices and good art teaching practices. Explain them and give examples.

    "In an art class the purpose should be to teach children to express their individual creativity through a visual language. In doing this, good teaching choices are to immerse the students in experience of the subject. This can be through asking them to express what they already know, using multisensory subject matter that can be observed, or placing students in the context/setting of an experience (this can be done by a field trip).

    Questions should be asked about what is observed and memory encouraged so that students have fully experienced before beginning. No examples should be shown prior to the experimenting so that students are not encouraged to produce product-based art. Rather, the experience should be used as the tie-in to studying various aspects of the art such as history and in-depth study of a certain medium. In addition, if students are working with a new medium, they should be allowed time to practice and learn the techniques of that particular medium. This is the only time that instruction [instruction is used, but demonstration and step-by-step instruction is generally restricted to learning new media and processes ] and example methods of teaching should be used [ If demonstrations are used, follow immediately with hands-on practice. Whenever possible, avoid demonstrations in favor of immediate, but directed hands-on practice to achieve learning that is remembered.]
    Teachers should not write on the student's works unless specifically asked to do so by the student. In this case, a teacher should ask the student where they want the writing placed so that the student understand the value of their decisions about their artwork. [This is a chance to teach aesthetic choice making.]

    In some instances teachers will want to use accretion to encourage students to develop their work further. This means asking questions about the work to encourage further action. This might be necessary if a student is finishing quickly and not thinking through the process, if a student continually draws small pictures on large paper, or if students have difficulty beginning a project.

    Judging students' work should not be done as it makes students insecure about the outcome of their work. However, when studying art history it is beneficial to judge, as well as [describe ], analyze and interpret the artist's work to encourage art appreciation.

Other concerns - not mentioned on the student paper.

Do not draw or paint for the child even if the child says, "You do it." Or "Can you show me how?" If the topic is from a memory , the teacher first attempts to motivate through clarification, through questions to bring passive knowledge and memories into awareness, and reassure the student that her/his own work is valid.

If it is from direct observation , the teacher goes to the object, animal, or person being observed. The teacher carefully points out what can be seen such as edges, sizes, shadows, shapes, proportions and so on at the item being observed, but not on the child's artwork?

If it is about a topic from the imagination , the teacher can ask open questions (questions with many correct answers).

Nonverbal motivation such as taste, touch, smell, sounds, role playing (psychodrama, play acting, and pretend), etc., are often successfully used to help children feel the urge to create and communicate.

If a child is still reticent to create, a teacher can switch from visual art to another art form such as song, dance, rhythmic sound, body motions, poetry, tall tale, and so on. Once they get rolling in an art form they understand and feel, they can often easily see the similarities in visual art and move from one form to the other. If drawing confidence has been ruined by a perfectionist adult, the same child may feel quiet good about spinning around, bouncing, or skipping in response to music. Once the confidence is restored, a teacher can help the child see the visual art as an interpretation or extension of the nonverbal. -mb

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