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Friday, March 27, 2015

Creating Creativity Amid a World of Standardized Tests

I tried a new assignment this year.  I asked all of my students to create works of original art based on some form of Asian art.  First question up to bat: "Can I do Japanese - style anime?" 

The answer:  I don't see why not.   You can use art from any part of Asia, from any time period, only do not copy and avoid pornography or disturbing images at all costs (after all, do we really want to be on the front page of the Daily News?).  And, briefly explain your choice.

I received a variety of styles.  It was great fun.  In my early days, I use to happily roam the halls of the Met, my home away from home.  Now, I can bid some art come to me.  

As expected, I received many lovely landscapes.  

Many pictures included Chinese and Japanese characters, a few, Arabic script.  

I received some three-dimensional art, including several Japanese cranes, referencing Sadako. 

As I examined the artwork, I learned a few things.  I received a beautiful medicine ball made as origami.  My student provided me with a detailed explanation.  What creativity!  What color!

We held an art competition.  I asked each of my five classes to choose their overall favorites.   Then, each class voted on their two favorites from all of my classes.   Here are the two runners up.  

Second Runner Up

First Runner Up,  As Voted by the Students. 

The winners received some extra credit and art supplies (the sort mothers with creative children seek to keep around their house) to encourage their talents.   Note:  the art supplies were not purchased through teacher's choice.  Sometimes (in fact, many times), teachers do good deeds just because they can.  It's one of my favorite fringe benefits of teaching.   "Random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" beat standardized testing any day!

Although we only chose several winners, I witnessed in this assignment what I already knew.  Many students have artistic skills which far surpass my own.  

Too bad standardized test makers don't count that type of talent worth much.  If they did, it might turn their world upside down.   Dare I say, they might feel like a fish out of water? 

A good many of standardized test makers who lack imagination might discover that they are only successful when they alone define success.   But what do you do in life when most questions have more than one correct answer?

Our First Place Winner!

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