My most recent contribution to artistew...
Assigning a number value to creative work seems in principle to be grossly counterintuitive. How does one judge the interpretive, individual and unique? Should a piece of art receive a high grade only if the teacher gets it? Does it warrant a failing mark if the meaning is lost on them? Should we grade simply on technique? What about students who create new techniques? Should a student who spends hours replicating what they think a tree looks like score higher or lower than the student who expertly sketches a realistic landscape in ten minutes flat? Or does everyone simply get an A for effort?
“Why do we have to grade them at all?” some may ask. “Shouldn’t they be allowed to use the arts to express themselves without worrying about performing and demonstrating these aptitudes in specific, measurable means? Wouldn’t that be more beneficial to the students?” In a word, YES, it would be. But realistically, if you can’t test it, schools don’t want to pay for it. Our society and educational system demand numbers that demonstrate progress and proficiency.
If we are to have any real hope of substantially elevating the arts as a necessary field of study for ALL students, then we’re going to need to start asking ourselves these questions. Certainly, this query is not new, and there are existing arts assessments currently being implemented- NYC has the Blueprints, NYS has the Standards, but as we move towards true subject equality for the arts (an Art Regents exam? Yes, NY, it’s coming…), we must learn not only to articulate what it is we do and why it’s important, but how we measure our success. We’re pretty confident that we know how NOT to assess learning in the arts (see cartoon above)… the flip side, however, will take a little more development.