Lately, I’ve been seeing the phrase “I’m not full TAB”, or something similar to that. And to be honest, at first I would kind of roll my eyes and move on. But then as I started to see it more and more, I thought that maybe some people don’t quite know or understand that TAB is a philosophy with a choice continuum.
Over the years, there have been many conversations about TAB vs modified TAB / “not full TAB”. And, in the end, the same conclusion ensued–there isn’t really modified/not-full TAB. That would infer that not all 3 core tenets are followed when setting up the program. And asking, which one(s) are you leaving out?
What do I mean by that? Well, TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior) is a philosophy that follows 3 core tenants. It asks What do artists do? It believes the child is the artist. And it believes the classroom is their studio. To put it more simply, as Ian Sands would say, it’s about Making Artists. The end goal should be helping/teaching our students to behave and think like artists. Obviously there is much more to it, I mean there are many books written about it and have been several theses written about TAB as well. But that would be a longer post for a different day.
How you achieve the end goal of “Making Artists” is the methodology. And that is where the continuum comes in. TAB teachers offer levels of choice for this. Good TAB teachers will vary the level of choice on a number of factors, including the individual needs of the students is one of those factors. In fact, there may be varying levels of choice within the same class period, and it can fluctuate over time going from more choice to less choice and back again. TAB is student-centered after all. I wrote another blog post that includes some reasons why you would vary the level of choice. Below is an image that displays the continuum of choice that can be offered, and there is a time for each level, including teacher directed, although that should probably be employed the least in a TAB practice.
In the end, if you believe in the philosophy and you arrange your program with the goal of making artists/teaching to think and behave like artists, you are a TAB teacher. What you modify is the amount of choice. And that will change as you learn about your student population and their needs, and it will vary from class to class, and student to student. At some point, students will be 100% self-directed, and that’s a beautiful thing.
TAB is a huge buzzword these days. I see it thrown around in many Facebook groups. But what is TAB exactly? TAB is an acronym for Teaching for Artistic Behavior. It is a philosophy that has three core values. It asks “What do Artists do?” It believes the child is the artist. And, it believes the art room is her/his studio. It is these three ideas that drive a TAB teacher’s curriculum…how they run their studio.
That brings me to my next topic, Modified TAB. This isn’t really a thing. A teacher either believes in the philosophy or doesn’t. They don’t really pick and choose which of the values they want to believe. What confuses people is the misunderstanding that being a TAB teacher means you are balls to the wall full choice, all day long. Like I said…this is a misconception of the philosophy. When running a TAB studio, no matter the level, there is a spectrum of choice. The amount of choice a teacher will allow has several variables.
Some teachers are expected to do x, y, and z. And most of us do like to be in compliance.
How “on board” a principal is with the change in the art program.
Bootcamp vs studio time
bootcamps are short amounts of time where the full class will explore a specific topic such as acrylic paints and color theory or copyright. Bootcamps should last a few days to a week tops. Studio time is where the students create their artwork.
Needs of the child
Each child is different in their learning styles and how comfortable they are with freedom. TAB is differentiation at its best.
There are certain things that teachers believe every student needs to know. This could be doing an attachment test to be able to use the sculpture center or biweekly drawing tests that have kids focus on the eye/brain/hand connection.
Teacher comfortability with giving up control.
Basically, a TAB teacher utilitizes varying degrees of choice throughout the year, for various reasons. But, they don’t utilize varying degrees of the philosophy.
Teaching in a “TAB-like” way isn’t a thing, but using varying levels of choice is. You can offer choice without being TAB, but you can’t be TAB without offering choice. You are a TAB teacher or you are not. There is not a formula as to how to run a TAB studio. There are as many ways to run the studio as there are TAB teachers. That’s the beauty of it. Believe the philosophy and do what works for you, your population, and your admin…as long as you have student Artistic autonomy as a goal for your students.