Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Product vs. Process; There is no black and white in my world

I have been a mom since 1990
I have been teaching since 1995
I have studied painting
I have studied Child Psychology
I have studied Learning behaviors
I have looked at many school models
I am an artist
I continue to research and be inspired
I am an observer
I am a lifelong learner
I have a blessed life

Why does this list really matter?  It compiles, in a list, who I am.  That I have been on a mission of understanding children, their needs, desires and what they deserve, for a long time.  And what I have concluded, based off of many conversations with educators, with parents and childless adults, is that I am tired of the black and white of this world.  People believe that teaching of art, follows one philosophy or another.  The strong beliefs that seem to be completely process or completely product.  Gray is more my color.  I like the middle.

Why did I become a teacher in art?  Because I wanted to give more than what I saw, and researched, kids were getting in any system, private or public.  I saw such potential that was not being taught, because of curriculum standards, or because of the lack of knowledge and exploration of teachers themselves.  The lack of taking into the account of individual learners and their intellects.  I knew I had a view that would enhance a child's learning experience, a space that had not been tapped into.  A place of honor, a place of education, a place to feel pride and especially a place of discovery.   I believe in people.  I believe that we all have the power to appreciate change.  I believe that we all owe it to ourselves to open up to the possibilities of "us".  Studio 4 Art is just one step in this path I am creating.  I get so passionate about the teaching of art, that I want to get on top of a mountain and shout to the world, WE NEED CREATIVE EXPLORATION AND WE NEED TO ALLOW OURSELVES TO PLAY IN ART.   Think if everyone around you had the comfort to believe in themselves, to have an outlet where they could release and evaluate to learn along the way.  We would live in a more productive, emotionally intact, and conscientious world.

I completely disagree with product models for art.  They actually give me the heebie-jeebies.  Art is about giving a person a voice, a place of discovery and personal power.  That is taken away when a child or an adult is given a step-by-step process.  It is taking away the belief that one has the capacity to dig down deep and discover, on their own, without being fed every step of the way.  To make art like another repulses me.  Yes, repulses.  Makes me sad.  It creates people, many people, who don't feel that their thoughts, ideas and actions have value.  It creates a follower.  Someone that becomes scared to think for themselves.  I know this sounds dramatic, I am dramatic, but I do believe this and have observed it myself.  And look around you, how many of us feel comfortable challenging what has already been put in place?  Myself included.  It took me many, many years to realize that following the rules that someone else had put into place, wasn't always the best. 

Process style of learning.  I love the open ended ideas of process art.  I think that it can push an artist through uncomfortable feelings, the unknown, into a comfortable space of knowing.  Even, if in the end, you don't like what you have done.  You learn by doing.  What I disagree with in this model is that, like everything in life, there are tools that can enhance the exploratory path.  Not to change, alter or take away your idea, but to give you even more to work with, a louder voice, a more educated piece.  Imagination is celebrated.

So, where does the gray come in?  Every step becomes a place for scaffolding on the previous thought or the previous technique.  As an educator it is my job to assist.  To ask questions that engage and push an original thought to the next level.  Never telling what I think should or even could be done, but to ask questions that allow the learner to become the educator of themselves.  Hopefully, a person, like myself, that enjoys new, enjoys discovery, enjoys "rethinking" and becomes a lifelong learner.  Celebrate being different and learning that being like everyone else not only doesn't exist, but would make the world a boring place to be.

I am just trying to help create good, thinking, humans.  And surprisingly, not necessarily even artists.