That's what happens when Teaching for Artistic Behaviors (aka: TAB). In a nutshell, it's a choice-based curriculum. It's where students get to choose their materials, develop their own ideas and struggle through the process. Isn't that what artists do?!
(I am a bit of a nut. A good, fun nut. I think it's in the job description for being creative.)
Do you think creativity is important? I've adopted a mantra in relation to that topic, inspired by Sir Ken Robinson:
So here's the deal. I'm trying really hard to create a classroom culture where new ideas are praised and all artistic abilities are celebrated. The emphasis is on building a portfolio of artwork that includes reflections that tell me what they've learned. How did they challenge themselves? We've been practicing this on a smaller scale through a Google Form (survey) that students fill out when they complete an artwork. It's based on the Studio Habits of Mind.
On a larger scale, students are also blogging about it - when I assign it. In the spirit of choice, this quarter I plan on giving options: a written blog post, a video blog or a live presentation to the class... because sharing ideas is fun.
Then I don't have to grade the artwork! (I once observed an art teacher who took artwork, compared them to each other, and then sorted them into an 'A' pile, 'B', and so forth. I was flabbergasted by that grading system!)
Instead, the artist (aka student) and I can focus on the learning instead of the quality of the skill displayed in the final product. If you want to get technical about it, it's called Standards Based Learning, or SBL, because education and acronyms go together like nuts and... squirrels. Yes, squirrels. Or do you prefer pea(nut) butter and jelly? Even better, a squirrel eating a peanut butter sandwich...
... and this is how topics transition.
I once did a tshirt design for a coffee shop called The Chattering Squirrel. We're close friends with the owners and this guy that runs the place is a social squirrel. To me, that means that he's fun, energetic and has a heart of gold.
There. I just invented a new slang term AND gave you a definition for it. Are you reading this, Urband Dictionary? Social Squirrel. Don't forget it.)
So, his wife asked me to draw a caricature of him as a squirrel, holding a cup of coffee. I'm still unsure if I like it as a tshirt, but it was fun capturing his personality in the design!
So there's your proof that idea development is an important real-world skill to practice and develop. You never know when you're going to be asked to draw something nutty. Wink.