Friday, November 6, 2015

Growth Mindset in the Art Room

Art is something that comes more easily to some people than others.  Some people have more innate skill or interest in art making.  Some people have been exposed to a variety of art and some may have a more limited scope.  For both children and adults, we are definitely not all starting on equal ground.  No matter what your art starting point is, I think the biggest determiner of success in art making comes from Mindset.  The students who I see make the most creative art and experience the most growth in art class are the ones who have a growth mindset.  They do not get hung up on what they "can" and "can't" do.  They don't worry about what their artwork is "supposed to look like." And they understand that there isn't just one right way to make art.    

Art can be hard.  I believe that it should be challenging. However, this challenge should not cause the brain to shut down and the hands to freeze up.  Art making is about risk taking and trying new things.  It should be more about the process of creating, rather than the final product. Just like any skill, it takes practice and the belief that you will improve if you keep working on it. It takes a willingness to make mistakes or create work that you are less than satisfied with.

As a teacher and an artist, I relish the opportunities to work alongside students and let them watch me balance success with struggle.  Of course I feel validated when they ooh and ahh over something I've created, but I also love to let students see me fail. I love art passionately, but it doesn't always come easily to me.  I have to work hard to get better and get over my own fear of failure.  Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started.

Teaching students to have growth mindset in art class could be the most important skill we cover.  Of course I believe that teaching the skills of art making is important to all learners, but I also value risk taking, creative thinking and getting messy.  It is impossible to be creative if you are afraid of failure.  Creative thinkers are the innovators, inventors and leaders of the next generation. 

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