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Transforming Ideas for Teaching and Learning The Arts - March 1997

Provide Students with Opportunities to Develop a Craft While Exploring Originality and Analytical Thinking.

"The learner passes through different stages involving different types of learning. If the teacher ignores the various stages and only focuses on the terminal performance, then learning could be haphazard or inefficient."
Schuell 25
The Congress finds that the arts are forms of understanding and ways of knowing that are fundamentally important to education.
Improving America's
Schools Act of 1994 26

Craftsmanship is an essential part of any art. Teachers have tended to emphasize it at the expense of other parts of what is an important triad. The other two parts, originality and a concern for quality, can never be forgotten. As soon as a student has demonstrated the grasp of a simple skill, the wise teacher seeks to provide an opportunity to use the new-found ability in a way that enhances the learner's pride and identity. At the same time, concern for quality must be encouraged. Students who learn early to evaluate their productions are on the road to the great satisfactions that the arts can bring. As soon as a young instrumentalist can produce a tone, the improvement of that tone should be a continuing matter of attention. Once an individual can twirl across the floor and keep focus, the dancer must search for ways to make the movements more expressive. Skill, originality, and self-evaluation are the vital distinguishing factors of an artist, whether student or professional.


A visual arts teacher at Colonial Elementary School in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, teaches watercolor by having her students paint oriental fans, because they"like to have some kind of product when they finish." She teaches"wet-on-wet" technique, encouraging exploration and abstraction, while discussing art history and art from other cultures. 27

Band students in a high school in Montgomery County, Maryland, developed an original, one-minute musical idea by expanding it, scoring it, rehearsing it, and recording it, thus acquiring many of the crafts of making music, while being original and applying analytical thinking. 28

[Experiences in the Arts Provide Opportunities for Students to Learn as Much About Themselves as They Do About the Subject Matter.] [Table of Contents] [Lead Students to New Ways of Solving Problems Through Unique Challenges in the Arts, Both Mental and Physical]