Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Two Opposing Methods to Teaching Art

An art class will often comprise students with an assortment of leaning needs and levels. For this reason no one teaching method will suit all. But a blend of the two opposing teaching approaches: pedagogy and andragogy will suit everybody.

The Best Teaching Methods for Art Instruction

Contrary to first impressions, any teaching method can be seen fit into one or the other divergent teaching approaches. These are known as andragogy and pedagogy. Andragogy is based on the behaviourist approach to teaching.

Behaviourism is where something is learned without involvement of the higher thought processes. This ‘learned’ behaviour becomes automated due to conditioning. A stimulus brings on the response, which can be as subtle as the tone of the teacher’s voice to urge a student  to complete a project on time. Behaviourism in the classroom can be seen when children automatically file out of the classroom at the sound of the bell. The bell is the stimulus; the filing out is the response.

Andragogic Art Activities

Incorporating the behaviourist approach to teaching methods is what andagogy means. Art activities that fit into this approaches are highly-directed, ‘do as I say, or do as I do.’ Such a lesson is teacher-centred, as the students have no control over the lesson activities. Behavourist teaching methods in art might be as follows:
  • Art lectures.
  • Step by step instructions on a painting demo.
  • A teacher talking about what the lesson is going to be about.
  • Following a health and safety drill in the studio.
  • Following instructions on how to measure proportions in the human figure.
  • Reciting information the teacher has given about colour theory.
  • Informing the assessment criteria for an art course (if applicable).
Pedagogic Art Activities

Employing a cognitive or humanistic approach to teaching is what pedagogy means. Cognitive art activities encourage independent learning and self-direction in learners. Students are free to find their own answers by prompts and suggestions by the teacher. Critical thinking as a result of reflection and self-analysis means the lessons are student-centred. Examples of cognitive teaching methods might be as follows:
  • Group discussions on how symmetry was used in art.
  • Research assignments into how Pop Art begun.
  • Exploratory art techniques that combine two painting methods.
  • Problem-solving thought shower.
Andagogy Versus Pedagogy in Art Class

An art lesson plan that is biased towards cognitivism or behaviourims is unlikely to result in an effective learning experience for all students. But a blend of one with the other approach in various measures could enhance the lesson. But when should the teacher use one teaching method above the other?

As a general rule, the andragogic approach comprise of highly-structured lesson plans which might work best for:
  • A class of beginners.
  • Within the initial stages of the course module, particularly the first lesson.
  • Art students with learning needs.
  • Students with low self-esteem.
  • To help a student who needs extra help with a particular aspect of art.
  • Young art students.
  • A class of children.
  • A lively art class.
  • When time is running short.
  • When deadlines are due.
A pedagogic approach comprise of a more organic lesson plan, where the students lead the art activities. This might work best for:
  • Gifted students.
  • Students who already know a little about painting.
  • Students who are highly self-directed.
  • Students with high self-esteem.
  • Students who simply prefer to learn certain things by self-discovery.
  • More pedagogic approaches can be incorporated into the lessons once the course module is underway.
The Best Teaching Method for Art

Art activities featuring a blend of the two teaching approaches will help engage all students whatever their level. An art lesson that solely comprises an art lecturer talking at length about how art movements evolved in the Renaissance period is likely to result in a restless and/or sleepy audience. Conversely, a teacher that requests a group of beginners to explore a diversity of collage materials may encounter blank looks.

How to Engage All Students in Art Lessons

The answer to the dilemma of whether to use andragogy or pedagogy is to conduct an initial assessment of the art students to establish their needs, abilities and learning styles. The teacher may then formulate art activities that mix up both approaches in the art class and in the most fitting places.

Art Subject Ideas for Teachers

The colour theory
Step by step demo on painting a still life
About oils and associated materials

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