"The real product of art education is not the works of art, but the child. We have to keep that firmly in mind–though it goes against several grains. If you are an artist and you want to make good art, I urge you to go into your studio and make good art. What you need to do as a teacher of art is create kids who make good art, create kids who think well as artists, who have an artistic mind.As artists, kids have to learn to chase the quality of their work. Artists must make the best art that they can make, but that's not your job. Your job is to get your students to chase the quality of their own work and make the best work they can make. So it can be confusing. I think we get really trapped and stuck in thinking that it's our job to make really high-quality work, so that we can put it out in the hall and everybody will say that we have a good art program. I think we have to be careful of that trap because you can turn your class into a production factory and then your kids don't develop artistic minds, even though they may be making beautiful work that is hanging in the hall. What I'm really urging here is more autonomy on the part of the student artist–they need to be making the decisions if they're going to make a better mind."
Working across the k-12 spectrum at Cabot is a truly unique and wonderful thing. Authentic development takes time and working with kids over the last two years has allowed me a window into the mechanics of students' developmental leaps. I recall working with some of our students last year, who were tentative and now are confident artists who speak with authority about their likes and dislikes. We've built a culture in our classroom where students are eager to try new things and also practice ideas over and over again until they are firm in their own mastery. I am asked with less frequency a question like "Can I do this?" and more frequently I am asked the question "How can I do this?" Students are seeking less outward approval from me and are making decisions for themselves. Students are praising their peers when they see someone succeed and helping their peers when they have expertise they can share. When students seek verbal approval from me, I almost always turn the conversation around and ask the students to explain their thoughts about their work. I try to be concrete in my responses and explain what I see and stay away from value judgements. Even though, there are moments when the students' work elicits pure joy and ooos and aaahs from me. Here are a few pictures from this year.