I have a visceral distaste for the very idea of measuring the arts with a standardized multiple-choice test.
This strikes me the sort of technocratic thinking that is driving creativity and ingenuity underground and crushing it whenever it dares to appear in a schoolroom.
We know that the only reason this idea is being considered is in order to generate enough data to evaluate teachers of the arts.
Imagine: Asking students in the band to answer bubble questions about composers or music.
Or asking students in a sculpture class to name this artist.
What’s the point? We want students to have cultural literacy but these kinds of learnings belong in the study of history and culture, not in an arts class.
Unless I’m wrong, arts classes are places to do the arts, places for creating them, acting them out, feeling the joy of expression.
And good grief, why can’t we trust teachers to know how there students are doing?
Oh, wait, I forgot. The tests are not being built to measure the students, but to measure their teachers. And we know that when their teachers are measured with these bubble tests, they will feel compelled to focus on what can be memorized, not what can be performed.
Another sign of the coldness that has infested the sensibilities of our policymakers.
I liked this teacher’s good idea about what to do with the bubble tests:
|I am a teacher and an artist. I don’t know which came first, but I do know they work hand in hand together. I work in a high poverty school in an inclusion kindergarten. I did my student teaching in a full inclusion school with two “Emotional Behavior Disorder” programs of children included in the general population of “typical” children.In both instances, the ONLY time I have absolutely ZERO behavior challenges crop up, is when I am teaching an art lesson that allows children to be creative.
My principal has come in to observe this magic phenomena, as have other teachers, only to see troubled children smiling, engaged, cooperative, collaborating, and learning without resistance.
Pre-schoolers through adults have learned ALL subjects through integrated art lessons, sometimes including music, and movement. They have learned with joy vs drudgery. And yes, they have DISCUSSED their learning, but it has also become part of their “muscle memory”.
I recently posted on Twitter about beautiful crocheted coral reefs and the art of adult women who learned a way to discover a hyperbolic math formula that was yet to be able to be worked out by the best mathematicians.
I am hoping this link embeds the Ted-Talk, but if not, you can access it here:http://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef.html
Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring have started this ongoing project. This integration of feminine art form, higher geometry, environmentalism, and science is found around the world now, but what I loved most besides its beauty was Margaret’s suggestion in the end of her Ted-Talk: She suggested that we create “Play Tanks” instead of “Think Tanks” for real reform.
The integration of learning is lost when we compartmentalize and narrow curriculum. Children and adults learn best when we DO. Yes, critical thinking, reading, writing, science, and math are all important. But when integrated with the arts through play, the learning is not only effortless — like play —- but becomes a muscle memory and one that does not have to be forced. We are automatically drawn to the learning and engagement.
As for bubble tests: I have a suggestion. Let’s create a bubble test art installation in every school. These bubble test forms need to become a piece of history, a thing of the past. These forms can be used creatively by artists, children and adults alike to create collage, sculpture, furniture, multi-media art forms, wall hangings, paper cutting, — watercolor, acrylic, oil paintings, sumi-e painting — music – though the notes are limited by A,B,C,D – perhaps someone can get creative – dance costumes, drama costumes, and anything else you can think of!
Join me in creating art out of bubble tests! That is the ONLY good purpose for bubble tests!
Where shall we begin installing them? Perhaps in every Department of Education as protest art! Opt Out and Create Opt Out Art!