What is ArtEd21?
The terms “makerspace” and “fab lab” have suddenly emerged as some of the most poignant buzzwords in education within the past few years. The impetus for this is an increased value that has been placed upon creativity and innovation in public school education. As an art teacher, I have always placed a high value on creativity because that is one of the primary tenets of art education. Or is it? Why has school-based art become so much about conforming to a standard appearance, duplicating the example of the teacher, and completing prescribed projects? In an effort to quantify the educational gains and results, teachers have slipped into a system of teaching creative production while marginalizing creativity itself. After all, if art education was truly featuring creativity, would schools feel the same need to develop auxiliary makerspaces?
"Teachers have slipped into a system of teaching creative production
while marginalizing creativity itself."
Starting with the 2018-19 school year, we will attempt to reverse this course and enact a creative renaissance in the art curriculum at Jefferson Elementary School. Instead of the more traditional art education environment, my students will enter a student-centered classroom emphasizing project-based, personalized, competency-based learning. Rather than uniformity and conformity, students will be able to choose their projects and learning activities based on their interests and abilities, work at their own pace, take as much time as needed, and regain ownership of their educational progress. Students will be responsible for reaching a designated point total to earn grades and attain levels which can also “unlock” other materials or creative opportunities. Blended learning will occur in school and at home to transcend the traditional school learning environment. Meanwhile, choices of projects may include painting, animation, digital drawing, 3D printing, sculpture, printmaking, comic book design, video production, Lego construction, mosaics, ceramics, graphic design, robotics, photography, reading, and more!
"Rather than uniformity and conformity, students will be able to choose their projects and learning activities based on their interests and abilities, work at their own pace, take as much time as needed, and regain ownership of their educational progress."
This project will enable the development and equipping of a wide variety of creative stations. Some of these stations will include the following: reading and research center, vertical Lego wall, digital drawing and painting studio, engineering challenge, observation station with natural sciences, traditional painting studio, 3D modeling lab, ceramics corner, and animation station. Flexible seating, equipment, and other resources will completely reinvent the art room and curriculum.
The redesign of the art curriculum at Jefferson Elementary will serve as a model for other classrooms and as an example for educators attesting to the potential learning opportunities offered in less restrictive, innovative teaching strategies and classroom environments. In response to our rapidly changing culture, pressures of standardized testing, and increased desire to develop creativity in our students, STEAM labs have been created in the hope that they would become a multidisciplinary connector. Unfortunately, these labs are often underutilized because there is no personal ownership of the resources, teachers have limited time to learn how to use the equipment, and there is not enough time to include untested content. The ArtEd21 model is a revolutionary approach to the same demand, but, rather than adding an auxiliary room, it is based on the idea that the art room has been and should be the creative epicenter of the school.
"The art curriculum will be reborn in the 21st century as the all-inclusive, cross-curricular, creative amalgam, the original makerspace, that it once was in the Renaissance."
During the Renaissance, artists were painters, mathematicians, sculptors, inventors, scientists, architects, philosophers, and poets. In many ways, they embodied what we now call “STEAM.” Through this initiative, the art curriculum will be reborn in the 21st century as the all-inclusive, cross-curricular, creative amalgam that it once was in the Renaissance.