As TAB (Teaching FOR Artistic Behavior ) and Choice both gain traction in art rooms across the country, I have been reading more and more posts on various Facebook Groups about teachers’ experiences, questions, queries, and various other complaints. One thing that I have been noticing lately is that some people think TAB and Choice are one in the same and they are interchangeable…like tissue and Kleenex or Xerox and a photocopier. I am writing this post to say they are not the same. I am going to be short and sweet, and get right to it.
While they have similarities and while there is much choice in a TAB classroom, just because a teacher offers choice in his/her classroom, it doesn’t make her or him a TAB teacher.
What makes TAB different from choice is the purpose of what is being taught. It is not about letting students choose what materials to use in an artwork. It is about teaching students how to think. It is about teaching an understanding of the artistic process and the design process, AND about how to use them. It is about letting the students be the artists, letting them make the decisions, and letting them fail and figure out how to grow/move on from there.
And, while sometimes a TAB teacher may set limitations such as theme or a big idea or what stations are open, the student is still the main artist. The student is the one who interprets things, does the research, does the exploration, creates the artworks, reflects, revises, and then decides when it is finished, and even it is successful.
Offering your students some choices, but still not letting them actually drive the boat doesn’t mean you are TAB. If you don’t have those thinking and behaving goals in mind for you students, you aren’t TAB, yet.
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t become TAB. And, I am not trying to exclude anyone who is TAB interested. I think it would be wonderful to have as many TAB teachers as possible teaching and leading our students. That would be, as they say, amazeballs. But, I also feel that if the pedagogy is going to spread, what is and what isn’t TAB should be understood. TAB is not something you can decide to do on a whim. You need to do your research on it. You need to do your homework. And, the site I linked above, and again now (TAB) is a good place to start. I also recommend the book Engaging Learners Through Artmaking by Katherine Douglas and Diane Jaquith, and the eBook Choice without Chaos by Anne Bedrick. These are great books. Coming soon is a book called The Open Artroom by Melissa Purtee and Ian Sands (I think that is their title.) This book will be geared towards secondary art TAB teachers.
I do hope you will join us on this wonderful journey of helping students navigate the road to becoming artists. The more the merrier.