Sunday, December 21, 2014

Abundant Curriculum Within High School TAB Art Education Programs

High school Teaching for Artistic Behavior is just like elementary Teaching for Artistic Behavior except the kids are bigger and have more executive functioning skills. In my situation, they all have their own computers and the Internet so that is a very big deal when it comes to researching or communicating essential content.


Students meet at the beginning of class period in a specially designed centers-based learning environment, typical of TAB art rooms. Attendance is taken and class announcements can be made at this time. Students may also begin independent work from this starting point.
Teachers may also deliver essential curriculum content at this time, for example a presentation of Renaissance perspective utilized by Masaccio and Masolino at the Brancacci Chapel.
Teachers may also present large-group demonstrations of techniques or methods during this time.
After the large group lesson, students acquire materials and settle into creative learning activities.

There are several high school TAB and TAB-like art programs I have been thinking about since transitioning to high school TAB. I first saw Jeff Pridie present in a packed room at NAEA Minneapolis in 2010. Jeff laid it out perfectly. Lots of opportunities for students to sink their teeth into meaningful learning experience because art is a big subject. Barb Andrews was offering student-directed learning experiences at New Palestine High School in her "Arts and Ideas" classes back in the 1990's when DBAE was being pushed from the top down by the Getty Foundation. Miriam Marcus was doing 'choice' with at-risk children in Flint, Michigan around 2005. Her stories of teaching children to knit with pencils because knitting needles were not allowed in her school amazed me. Of course listening to John Crowe's stories about "care and play," during his high school teaching days was very inspirational. Colleen Rose is operating a wonderful high school art program in Ontario, Canada. At Apex High School, Ian Sands, Melissa Purtee, Kim Sudkamp and Shawnda Rossi are running a spectacular art education program where choice is featured in their curricula. There are many other democratic/choice based high school art programs around the country, but these are the ones I am thinking about now.

We are seeing educators adopting TAB pedagogy throughout the country at all grade levels. There are thousands of elementary and middle school teachers working with TAB and quite interestingly, the High School TAB Facebook page has 358 members in it.

Educators are very much interested in the possibilities of what liberating the imagination and creative spirit looks like in K-12 Public Education settings and looking at the results of my own experiences with high school TAB there is quite an appetite for choice-based art education.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Deficit Ideology

In the vast majority of US K-12 schools, pedagogy influenced by radical behaviorism, designed around data-driven instruction, intent on filling malleable minds with the same skill sets at the same time is wreaking developmental havoc. Significant numbers of children learn very early that authorities select, impose and manage their educational experiences whereby it is advantageous for the child to become a compliant, passive recipient of knowledge. Children who struggle to comply with teacher directives are ostracized and punished. State imposed high stakes standardized testing is a powerful incentive for educators to employ radical behaviorism and impose deficit model education. It is a matter of survival that educators do so. Children’s interests, strengths and passions are given token consideration when curricula is formulated. Curricula is centered upon passing tests.

In deficit model education, children are viewed as blank slates whereby curriculum focuses on what they don't know.  Educational experience becomes a technicized process done to the child where ultimately, machines ascribe a number to their educational experience, stack ranking children based on their ability to answer multiple choice questions loaded with distractors. In TAB classrooms, that paradigm is reversed. Children are viewed not as blank slates but designers of their own educational experiences and abundant sources of curriculum. Learners have varying degrees of control over the methods, content, pace and assessment of learning. 




One of the main points discussed in this blog is the idea that deficit ideology has no place in the art room. Looking at the big picture, deficit ideology I suspect, has done a lot of damage. All children are born with the innate capacity to learn. How many curious children have been turned into passive recipients of knowledge as a result of non-consensual radical behaviorism?



Human beings are not machines. The steady growth of TAB programs in K-12 art rooms across the United States is a direct result of children's positive responses to holistic and democratic forms of educational experience. Educators who honor, respect and support children's conscientious drive for autonomous, self-directed learning experiences will be on the cutting edge of the next revolution in education. 








Sunday, October 26, 2014

TAB Across The Curricula

Last Spring, "Transition to Choice Based Art Education" became 10 years old. One of the themes that runs across this blog, and that theme is supported by other TAB art education blogs, is that human beings thrive in educational settings that support an individual's pursuit of creative learning activity. 

There is an interesting thread going on at the TAB Yahoo Group Discussion Forum on learner centered education (actually all the threads on that forum are related to learner centered education).


What would TAB look like in other subjects? 


If teachers did not have the anvil of standardized high stakes tests hanging over their heads, what kinds of creative pedagogy might teachers be free to practice in their classrooms? TAB pedagogy is not for everyone, but I could envision programs where highly creative teachers could prime enthusiastic students to investigate individual lines of flight where teacher acts as learning steward, inspirationalist, supporter and co-collaborator.


I'm not talking about student centered learning activity as a handmaiden to traditional data driven pedagogy in math or language arts. I'm talking about a TAB like student centered trans-disciplinary curriculum experience that is rhizomatic. As Clara Belle Baker once said, "No one can predict how far an individual child may go in a dynamic school system when an understanding teacher, using all the resources of the community, awakens his/her imagination and interest and thus releases his/her emotional drive." In rhizomatic curriculum structures, children typically go beyond the given information and are full partners in the design of curricula and assessment of learning.




American standardized education require teachers to deploy learning experience emphasizing selected-response, information-processing activities that necessitate students passive compliance and conformity. Just because the teacher greets you with a smile at the classroom door does not mean authoritarian structures of control do not exist. They do. 

Our education system is not sensitive to young citizens voices or their time sensitive ideas to the extent that democracy exists in the classroom. Unless you happen to be in a TAB art room, children are systematically outside the decision making process central to the learning activities they are compelled to participate in. 

Diane Jaquith and Nan Hathaway, ask the question in their essay, "Where's the Revolution?"

It is quite clear to me, high stakes standardized testing prevent children from co-collaborating as curricula designers with their teachers. Teachers are forced to design curricula around the prospect of standardized tests.

The bigger picture is troubling. Since educational experience is designed around test taking, and individual children's unique intellectual realms are not considered, we have a huge problem in this country with respect to student engagement and transformative learning.

What would personalized learning experience across the curricula look like? TAB teachers are among a handful of educators nationwide who practice holistic, child centered education on a regular basis. TAB knows personalized, child centered learning.




John Dewey and his protege William Heard Kilpatrick argued that traditional curriculum structures do not fit the flow of a child's experience. That's why individual relevance to learning experience is so important. In order for new learning to occur a learner must accept his experience and have an affection for it. 


The premise that children need to learn specific content in a fixed curriculum because "they will need to know this later on," is a false premise to me. Developmental timetables, innate capacities and intellects vary from child to child. If a learner is not motivated to practice what they have just learned, despite all the external rigor in the world, learning goes into one ear and out the other. That's why building learning upon strengths and interests is so important. Learners freely practice what they learn through play, strengths, interests and they remember new content and material scaffolded through these experiences. 

One of my questions is... if human beings are natural born learners, why would traditional schools of education take children out of their natural learning states and into an unnatural state? I'll let the reader ponder that one.

What goes on within the neural-networks of the brain during the act of learning is just as important as the content being learned. The act of learning should be consensual, democratic and it should promote an individual's desire to learn more and to do more. 

I have linked Eric Kandel's book, In Search of Memory in the last paragraph. There is a contradiction here that needs discussion. Kandel, in his own life experience, received a traditional liberal arts education. His educational experience was satisfactory for him and he went on to do important research in memory acquisition and neuroscience. What his research says is this. Learning experience, in order to maintain the attention of the learner, should be an emotionally satisfying, multi-sensory, joyful and intrinsically motivated event where the neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline are part of the physical experience of learning.

Experience where children are treated as blank slates, driven by radical behaviorism is not beneficial to learning as over time, what is learned is likely to go into one ear and out the other.

Designing curricula that is purposely flexible in order to optimize student's independent learning pathways requires a special teacher able to challenge learners with emergent curricula and go beyond the given information. Facilitating learning experience of which students are inspired partners in curricular decision making processes is part of the artistry of teaching TAB educators utilize on a regular basis. 

video


"Soldier Animation" by Stephen