Justin Clumpner presented some valuable perspective in his well-attended, standing-room-only, 8 a.m. presentation. I suspect so many were interested in what he had to say because of the subversive way he described his content. The title of the session was “Art Education Without Authority.” The description emphasizes turning control over to students. And the packet he provided was titled “Art Insubordination.”
Nevertheless, the specific recommendations he made were actually best practices in disguise. I suppose I should be concerned that some attendees only heard the words, and not the meaning, so let me translate a few of the things he said into what I heard.
He said, Reduce Requirements. I heard, design assignments to be more meaningful and promote success for all students. He encouraged moving away from over-structured assignments like drawing realistic self portraits, to more flexible assignments that honor the nature of art and creative self expression and allow each student to express personal connections to meaningful concepts. (Examples included death, gender, and monsters.)
He said, Minimize Grades and Critique as Often as Possible. I heard, de-emphasize grading and emphasize assessment and feedback which lead to learning and growth. (I admit, I heard a couple of things that I don’t agree with regarding grading practice, but the intent was in the right place.)
He said, Be Flexible on Deadlines and Create an Environment of Respect. I heard, align your practices and classroom expectations with the nature of artmaking and creative exploration, and the nature of learning. Learning can and does happen after deadlines and tests. Why shouldn’t our practices align with this reality?!