Friday, October 7, 2016

GREAT DEBATE: Process vs. Product

Debates... They are a hot topic right now.  Here's a big one in the Art Education world... What do we emphasise?  Process or Product. This debate is one that I have in my own head all the time.  I'm still not sure where I stand.  I love the cute art that my kids bring home.  I love teaching students the value of craftsmanship. My coworkers value haveing 'pretty' things on the wall... I know this. I have been moving towards discovery, exploration and choice in my classroom the last couple of year.  It's fresh (to me at least). It's fun for the kids, and also fun for me.  I have discovered so much more about my 800 students than I ever thought I could. Is this valuable Art Education?? The debate continues... 

I have a new student in class.  We'll call him F. He was charged to create a project with the rest of the class for our Art to Remember projects. He was to create a self-portrait.  I gave him the steps as I did the rest of the class. Most products looked like this (click here) but F's looked like this... 

He came up to me on the second day when students were coloring.  I already had my class running a little more choice based than the week before so all students were working and on task.  This gave me the opportunity to stop, and listen to 'F'. He said the other said he didn't try.  I did give a long speech at the start of class talking about the importance of craftsmanship. I also asked them to seek out peer critiques to help them find any places of improvement such as white spots. In doing so, his peers said he didn't try very hard.  

When he came to me I gave him the teacher speech... "Did you try your best? That is all we can ask you to do.  Your best might look differently than others." He was so sad.  I asked him if he wanted to give it a second try.  We sat down side by side and I walked him through the steps again.  This time doing one beside him and only speaking to him... not the class of 25+. I was able to teach him a second individual lesson because the rest of my students were coloring, or working on choice projects after the assignment.  This is what he created the second time. 

After completing the drawing, it was time to pick up so I asked to take his work.  He refused until he was able to go show all of his peers his new artwork.  He was so proud.  He said he didn't know how he made it so good. I joked with him and said, "It must have been the pencil". Well, He suggested that he have a special spot for the pencil so he can use it again.  This is what we came up with.

I don't think choice based is the right answer for everything.  This day it allowed me to make one child feel very successful and the rest of the class to continue with their work. I think the best answer for me is both... Some step by step projects sprinkled with choice, where ever I can give it.