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NAEA director Gray on research and choice

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TwoDucks_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Tue Sep 28 2004 - 14:53:38 PDT


In this month's NAEA NEWS (vol. 46, no. 5) Eastern Regional Director John
Michael Gray writes a column on useful research for art education. He has given
me permission to quote from the column; the bold caps are his. Needless to
say, his questions are of compelling interest to me, and I hope, to other art
educators. Four brief research summaries on this topic are available at
http://knowledgeloom.org/tab. What do you think?
Kathy Douglas
"Art teachers at all levels have at one time or another debated the notion of
"choice" in the art room. At the high school level, we tend to frequently
give all students choices in materials. They get to decide whether to use
charcoal or pencil in a still life drawing. Advanced students can make choices
about their next art project from beginning to end. Should we be making
choice a larger part of our high school programs? Are choices essential to
developing "self-motivated and directed" young artists? Would less choice be
appropriate at this level since
students are still learning the "basics" of materials and should be following
a large group learning activity? What about middle school students? Do they
need more structure or more choice to be successful in art production? What
about the typical middle school response of using the same material over and
over to create the same images? On the elementary level, many teachers are
working with "learning centers" in the art room where students choose what they
want to use on a given day by going to the appropriate center to work. Is
this the most productive use of the instructional time? Are elementary students
too young to be making such choices? Can research guide teachers in allowing
for student choice?...WE DO NOT NEED TO ADDRESS THE LARGER RESEARCH ISSUES
such as: "the case for maintaining the existence of art education in a 22nd
century post-industrial society" or "the relationships between mark making, art
creation and cognitive growth in all subject areas." WE DO NEED TO GIVE USEFUL
RESEARCH-BASED INFORMATION TO ART TEACHERS THAT CAN HELP THE TEACHERS improve
their day-to-day art instructional programs with real students in real life
learning situations. How can we work with students to teach them to value
their artworks? When it is appropriate to give students choice in art
instructional programs?...Let's get in the classroom and start asking some SIMPLE AND
USEFUL research questions."

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