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research in best practice: art education


Date: Sat Feb 07 2004 - 10:42:55 PST

To Renee Berg:
I read your query about best practice research in art education. The
Education Alliance at Brown University was funded by the Department of Education to
create their best practice in education website. We were invited to create
the content for the visual arts area and you will find so much information
there. There are stories of teachers in action and four succinct research
summaries...along with extensive bibliography. This web site was created just for
teachers like you! I hope that you will visit and we would love your
feedback. The web address is I paste below the
press release which accompanied the opening of the web site.
Katherine Douglas
Teaching for Artistic Behavior Partnership
Knowledge Loom Launches New Spotlight—Choice-Based Art Education

I looked at a painting by Paul Gaughin. He made a painting with two girls
sitting down cutting flowers. I made a picture that had two girls. It is of me
and my mom. She was doing a braid in my hair to go out to eat. We had the same
clothes on and we both had braids in our hair. I was making hair things.
    A Third Grader’s Artist Statement

If you visit The Knowledge Loom (, an
interactive best-practice website created by The Education Alliance at Brown University
with initial funding from the U.S. Department of Education, you will see the
tempera painting that this third-grade “Gaughin” created. It’s just one of
several samples of student work that you’ll find on one of The Loom’s newest
spotlights: “Choice-based Art—Teaching for Artistic Behavior.” The spotlight
also allows you to listen in on a conversation about the pedagogy of
choice-based art education and add your own thoughts to an online panel discussion.
Though many educators advocate for a student-centered approach to learning, The
Knowledge Loom is the first interactive Web resource with this model as a focus
in the art room. Choice-based art classrooms simulate studios, offering
effective organization of space, time, and materials that enable students to create
work which is individual, compelling, and personally meaningful.

Just what is involved in choice-based art? Katherine Douglas, seasoned
classroom teacher, practicing artist, and long-time proponent of this way of
teaching explains, “Sometimes artists are exploring materials which ultimately give
them their ideas, and so, these materials must be in the control of the artist.
In a choice-based classroom we make certain that our students are in control
of their materials, even our very young students . . .Some of the best art
emerges from student exploration.” Douglas and her colleagues at the Teaching for
Artistic Behavior Partnership developed the content for the Loom’s
art-focused spotlight, based on their many years of classroom experience and their own
work as artists. Douglas sat down recently with John Crowe, chair of the Art
Education Department at Massachusetts College of Art, and Mary Anne Mather, one
of the creators of the Loom, to discuss the differences between traditional
and choice-based art education. As Crowe states, in many conventional classrooms
“the art teacher essentially is the artist, and the students just carry out
assignments. They are not really independent explorers.” A full transcript
(along with audio) of their conversation can be found at

The spotlight offers best practices in art teaching illustrated with actual
classroom examples.

For more information, call Mary Anne Mather at (800) 521-9550, extension 226.