Monday, December 9, 2013

Mind Blown: Teaching For Artistic Behavior

During the course of my most recent class at Plymouth State University, "Elementary Methods and Materials in Art Education" with Alexis Eynon, I needed to observe an Elementary school art room. I had the pleasure of observing two. 

The first was Claire Provencher's art room at McDonough Elementary school in Manchester, NH. I had met Claire a couple years back through the NHAEA and really liked how she structured her lessons and included art history. So, I asked to observe her room. However, right before I was scheduled to go in to observe, I was doing my research on her and her school (like a good observer does) and noticed that this year she completely changed the was she does things in her classroom! This year she has made the transition to the Choice-based Art Room or Teaching For Artistic Behavior.


I hadn't heard of this, but I am so glad I was able to check it out! If you haven't heard of this before, I HIGHLY encourage you to check out the following links and books. This method of art education has been around for about 30 years and is very intriguing to me (and a bit scary)--students are now in charge of their learning and projects. The art teacher is a facilitator and art director--not the one in charge of every project. Students choose materials, subjects, and more.

Now wait! I know you have objections! I did too! I know you are thinking, well that won't work for me (or my students). But, I ask you to just check it out. It really is cool and doable! I was also able to observe Holly Rousseau, an art teacher at Highland Goffs Fall Elementary School in Manchester, using Choice-Based learning in her art room. It can be done! And, I think, is a valid way of teaching creative thinking and higher order thinking skills that definitely should be considered. I even wrote a Research Paper on it called "Choice-Based Art Education for the 21st Century." I can send you a pdf of it if you'd like.

So check out these resources. They are VERY thought-provoking....

Article: "Smoke and Mirrors: The Art Teacher as Magician" by Nan Hathaway (pdf)
This is the article that inspired Claire Provencher to look into TAB/Choice-based learning.

• Website:  Teaching For Artistic Behavior, Inc.
This website is a treasure-trove of information on TAB teaching/learning!

• Book: "Engaging Learners Through Artmaking: Choice-based Art Education in the Classroom," by Katherine Douglas and Diane B. Jaquith
A great read and has many testimonials about how this method of teaching/learning can be achieved in the art classroom.

• Book: "The Learner-Directed Classroom: Developing Creative Thinking Skills Through Art" by Diane Jaquith and Nan Hathaway
A compilation of articles from a variety of teachers who are using this approach in their art rooms from Elementary school through High School art rooms. Also a quick read and very accessible.

But as LeVar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow "But you don't have to take my word for it!" Go observe a TAB/Choice-based art room near you! And let me know what you find!


  1. I would love to read your paper.

    1. Great, Jen! I'll send it to you ASAP. Thanks!

  2. Please send me a copy of your paper.

  3. Would love to read your paper as trying the changeover to choice as well.


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