I agree with much of what you say. And I also agree that middle school is a very crucial time in the arts for young people. And what many of them "get" is valuable. Maybe your middle school teachers aren't strong, but I strongly value what I do and feel that I send my students on to high school as prepared as possible. There are many good middle school art educators out there who give students more than a marking period.
I've also voiced my point about standards being developmentally valid and appropriate when examining our upcoming Ohio standards (if anyone is in ohio check out the ode website and make comments on our new standards.l know someone on the writing team and that's where they're starting from on rewrites. ).
Encouraging the creative self is important, but I do feel that some form of standards is needed and we need to be accountable for those standards. those two things can work together. There are many teachers who are out there that are there for the paycheck and are not passionate about our field, as we are. Their students get nothing of value from their classes and then grow to be adults who don't value the arts and aren't supportive. (And those are the parents that don't come into the art rooms at conferences, because they could care less what their kid gets in art - or they come in complaining about it saying "They actually have to take quizzes? They actually had specific things they had to do and learn? Why are you keeping her/his grade point average down?")
Off my soap box. :)
I just do my homework. I am possessed with research and I think that is something that should be a rule for teachers --- don't let "it" get beyond you, keep up with what is going on. There is a lot of crap to weed through and mostly it's "what 's new is old again." But you have to be on top of things in order to argue and defend.
I was a child of the 50's when Lowenfeld was the model, and you know what --- lot's of experts are saying let's revisit Lowenfeld. As we have become immersed in DBAE and Standards we have forgotten the stages of development and maybe failure in art comes from expectations that are not developmentally valid. My research indicates that the most crucial time for art is between the ages of 11-15--- middle school --- where what do they get ? A marking period at the most? So then I get them in high school with certain expectations and they don't have it.
Judy and I have had a bit of a private discussion about grading. (Judy, I hope you don't mind, but I have something to say) I, in my 10 years, have maybe failed a handful of kids (I teach high school) Those kids were problems beyond what I can do. I will never penalize a kid that tries. The expectation may not come close to my rubric, but the doing something is not a failure. I have wonderful rubrics, but my heart always gives the kid a break. (And I only say that because I work with somebody who will never give an A because they couldn't be that good)
I don't understand the standards--- what is proficiency in art? I'm 51 years old and I ain't proficient.
I guess I think our job as art teachers is to provide experiences that are not Standard. We are different, we don't "fit." We need to celebrate and advocate that we are different and not try to fit the mold. I guess I'm just asking that you not try to fit into a 'way" but trust your instincts as artists and make the "way." The only way we will survive is by being leaders, not followers, by trusting the instincts that made us artists in the first place, and by recognizing all those kids that just don't fit. And give all of them the opportunity to just express.
The best thing that keeps me going are the kids that come back to me and thank me for just giving them the space to say what they need to say. They may remember some of the of the standards crap I gave them, but mostly they remember that I gave them freedom.
That's my lesson to myself.
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