In my Discussion section I have emphasized the importance of thinking critically about the artmaking process as a way to help students potentially sustain a curiosity in all creative practices throughout their educational careers and beyond. Through incorporating students’ everyday movements as resources for learning and by dissecting the big ideas of contemporary artists, students were introduced to new ways of working. The successes of my project rested on grounding lessons in students’ lived experiences. In my conclusion, I offer practical advice for art teachers interested in taking the time to observe the artmaking process with students.
First, teachers who are interested in designing process oriented projects can use video as a tool to guide their students through the artmaking process. It was important for me to let my students see my artist self in the classroom and I partially accomplished this by recording the making of the exemplar for the Walking, Making, Mapping project. I used iMovie to edit the process and shared a four minute time lapse video with my students. It worked well to show the video without sound so that I could talk through my process as it was happening. In moving forward as a teacher, I plan to use video as a tool to help students understand the artmaking process and encourage teachers interested in taking process seriously to use it as well.
Second, I recommend teaching art in incremental stages. In all three projects I worked on with students, we approached big ideas from multiple angles and through multiple media. Students incorporated reading, writing, sketching, movement, videos, photography and critiques in their process. Students were able to tackle essential questions from multiple perspectives and were given a range of options for how they could respond. By scaffolding projects in stages, students could see how each phase of the process impacted the next and were able to connect the pieces together. One specific suggestion I offer art teachers is to integrate writing into the critique process. My students almost always had more interesting comments to share during critiques after writing down their thoughts first.
Third, I have learned that teaching art fundamentals with concepts used by contemporary artists not only gives students a solid understanding of the elements and principles but promotes a sense of ownership as well. I recommend inviting students to help shape their own projects as a way to spark interest in seemingly boring subject matter. During my thesis I was asked to teach color theory to prepare students for an upcoming exam. Instead of asking students to fill in a wheel full of colors, they instead discussed the work of a contemporary artist, collected and painted objects, collaboratively constructed sculptures, generated lists of materials and produced a prolific amount of colorful drawings.
Fourth, teachers interested in learning right along side their students can offer suggestions versus telling them exactly what to do. I recommend giving specific feedback to students through many small conversations and to assess their work at many different stages in the working process. During my project I tried really hard to let students make their own decisions during the artmaking process and although it was a challenge at times for us both, I believe students were more motivated to work because of this freedom. In my thesis I learned that teachers must really take the time to look closely at student work in order to give constructive criticism.
Lastly, teachers interested in gaining the trust of their students can risk being transparent with them about not having all of the answers. Through my research, I have learned that making space for doubts and embracing resistance opens possibilities for students and teachers to relate to one another. My thesis has helped me to realize that in order for meaningful learning to occur, I need to welcome all of the richness involved in risk-taking, unpredictability, surprises, loss, and the unexpected into the classroom. I encourage all art educators to do the same.