Remarks introduced, compiled, and edited by Becca Barniskis, Barbara Cox, & Lori Brink
Since its publication, Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education[i] has created lively debate among arts education advocates. Based on research carried out in two schools in Boston, the book identifies eight “Studio Habits of Mind” that visual arts teachers intend their students to learn and three classroom structures that teachers use to teach these habits.
The authors of the study argue that before we can claim that learning in the arts leads to success in other academic areas, we must first identify what it is that students do learn in an arts classroom. Only then can we conduct meaningful conversations about the benefits of arts education. This call to slow down and examine the value of learning in the arts has been interpreted by some as contrary to the aims of arts-integration efforts in our schools. They fear that backing away from claims that the arts improve students’ overall academic performance will undermine efforts to keep arts in the schools. We wanted to look at this research in terms of student learning, period.
This article is not about a controversy among arts advocates. In fact the article not even really about the book itself (see TAJ issue 6(3) pp. 236-242 for Nick Rabkin’s fine review). Instead, it aims to make visible the practice of teaching artists around the United States who have been intentionally using the Studio Habits of Mind in their work with teachers and students. How are teaching artists using the Studio Habits of Mind in the field? What are they finding out? What questions surface? It is, in fact, a continuation of the research first carried out so rigorously by Lois Hetland and her colleagues.
[Full article in TAJ 7(3)]