Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? | Cindy Foley | TEDxColumbus

Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? | Cindy Foley | TEDxColumbus

Translator: Jihan Chara
Reviewer: Denise RQ We are going to get started
with some kindergarten image-word match. I would like each of you to determine what is the word that matches
the image in number seven. Starting to come up with some ideas? Good. Get them in your head
because I want to share with you what my daughter Adeline chose. (Laughter) Adeline chose ‘art,’ and as her parent,
I thought that was awesome, but this is an incorrect answer
according to the testing guide. The correct answer is ‘mud,’
and I’m sure that’s what you all chose. Right, right? How can something
so nebulous be so concrete? Actually, I think this quiz
is a fitting analogy for the problem in art education today. Art education has been impacted by the standards and testing culture
like all other disciplines, and in a lot of ways, we’ve been focusing
on teaching things that are concrete. Things like elements of art,
art history, and foundational skills. In essence, we’re teaching things
that we can test and assess. But I believe art education needs to focus on developing learners
that think like artists. Learners who are creative, curious,
seek questions, develop ideas, and play, which means we need
to be much more intentional about how we communicate
art’s critical value and how we teach for creativity. So, creativity – let’s do
a little case making around this. Most of this you know. Creativity is being touted
by business leaders like the folks at IBM, by educational reformists, by economists, even folks as Dan Pink as the number one thing we need for student success,
economic growth, and general happiness. We also know the creativity scores
in this country are on the decline, that Torrance creativity test,
which has been administered for decades, has now shown, since the 1990s, a decline, especially in ages 6 to 12
in the United States. We also know due to Sir Kenneth
Robinson’s now famous TED Talk that schools are
fundamentally and foundationally challenged to cultivate creativity. But I’m going to share
with you some research that the Wallace Foundation did
with Harvard’s Project Zero in which they found the number one thing
quality art education can do is develop “the capacity to think creatively
and the capacity to make connections.” So then why is there such a disconnect between creativity and art education? I think there’s actually
a couple of reasons why. But we are going to focus on
communication and messaging. Those of us in the field
have been working to really move art education
out of a defensive place. We’ve been trying to make
a case for our own existence, and we’re trying to move it more
towards an offensive message especially around creativity. But we’re not there yet, and so, we’re going to place that
for another talk, at another time. Instead, I want to focus on a message I think is much more
problematic and pervasive – and I hate to put you on the spot, but I actually feel you are to blame. I mean, not you per se,
but you as a group of people who actually really support art education Let me give some context. As a parent, I often hear adults
saying things to children, as well as to other adults,
and to the educators, things like this, “Oh, my goodness! Look how well
you’ve drawn that horse! It’s so realistic! You’re so creative!” You’ve heard messages like that before? Here’s another one
I think I hear almost daily, “Oh, Cindy! I really support
art education. It is very important!
I mean, I’m not creative. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.
I can’t even draw a stick figure.” (Laughter) These messages are incredibly
problematic and the more … You may not think they are a big deal, but the more society pushes them out and continues to foster these cliche notions
of what is creativity, the harder it is
for those in the field, like me, to begin moving
towards teaching for creativity. Teaching for creativity.
What do I mean by that? I believe teaching for creativity is
embodying the habits the artists employ. Habits in particular, there are three that I think are essential to creativity. They are: one – comfort with ambiguity, two – idea generation,
and three – transdisciplinary research. We’re going to talk
about those in a moment, but first, we’re going to do
a little audience participation. I would like each of you
to use something on your person: paper, pencil, your program,
phone, glasses; it doesn’t matter. And I’d like you –
you’ll just get a couple of minutes – to actually create something
that represents the idea of metaphor. Go ahead. (indistinct chatter in the audience) Alright. Be honest. How many of you had a surge of panic
when I just asked you to do that? (Laughter) I want you to savor that sensation. You actually are off the hook, but I want you to savor
that sensation for a moment. What you just experienced is, I think,
the number one obstacle to creative work: that discomfort, and that discomfort
is ambiguity, it’s not-knowing. I actually learned this
from a group of teachers. We’d been working with them,
and they told us, “You know what? We find that it’s really difficult to engage our students in creative work,
in particular, open-ended projects. It just makes it really hard.” Ironically enough, later that afternoon,
we had that same group of teachers, and we gave them a challenge
similar to the one I just gave you. Interestingly enough, almost immediately, a couple of them announced
they needed to leave for the day. (Laughter) Another group needed
a break at that moment, and still, others stayed in the classroom but refused to participate
in the activity. What we realized is students struggle with ambiguity
because we all do. Artists, on the other hand, realize
that ambiguity is part of the process. They take it, they identify it,
and they tackle it head on. If artists are doing this,
can’t you imagine if art education was a place where we knew students could go
to prepare for lives of not knowing? I work at the Columbus Museum of Art,
and for years now, we provided the kind of art education
that our community requested. So for example, when we had an exhibition
of the work of Claude Monet, we taught about his history, we allowed folks to experiment
with his materials and his process, and then, we finally
would create lesson plans and allow others to do the same. In essence, what we were doing was generating content
and allowing folks to make mini-Monets. But then it dawned on us we were not actually engaging them
in what made Monet Monet. And that was the way he thought;
Monet’s ideas were revolutionary. He questioned the natural world,
the way we see, he questioned the politics of the time, and that’s what made
his work so exceptional. It was at this moment we realized we needed to be teaching
for idea generation. So I’m going to have you jump with me now
from one artist to another. (Laughter) The Lego movie gave us such a gift
when they presented the movie this summer. More or less, what they said was creativity is not the Lego kid
in the direction booklet but creativity is the bucket of Legos
and the potential for ideas within. Legos are just another material
like drawing materials to help us make ideas manifest. What I loved about this movie was the idea of the master builder or the person who has
the courage to have ideas. But it dawned on me, in much of education,
the master builders are the educators. They’re the ones who have ideas,
great lesson plans. But students are secondary
to that process. Students are often
more of the artist’s assistant, or sometimes, even just the factory worker
getting the project done. Visualize a classroom
full of master builders, a classroom full
of master builders at play. Yes, play. Play is essential. Play is a surefire way
to kickstart ideation. Artists play. They play in a number of ways. They either play with materials
until ideas begin to manifest or they play with ideas until they realize what media or materials
they need to bring that into reality. Imagine an art education
where educators were comfortable with the ambiguous classroom where student ideas
and interests lead the learning. So I need to be honest with you: nothing in my career,
my education, or my teaching has influenced my thinking
as much as being married to an artist. I am married to Sean Foley, and what I can tell you about artists
is that they’re voracious researchers. They will research anything –
bizarre things. And what I’ve learned is that they’ll do anything
that furthers their thinking. Let me give you an example. About ten years ago, Sean had this idea that if painting were dead
what if he were doctor Frankenstein? He immediately rereads Mary Shelley.
He rewatches all the classic horror films. He then devours books at the library on natural history, history
of medicine, anomalies of nature. He then starts purchasing
taxidermic animals. (Laughter) But then, he informs me
that we need to go to London. He must go to London in order to study
the museums of the pre-Enlightenment, and in particular,
the early operating theaters. So in essence, his research manifest, and Sean ends up making
monsters of his own, like this one. So what Sean was engaged in
is transdisciplinary research or research that serves curiosity. Imagine if the future of education
was not about discrete disciplines but rather was about disciplines
like math, art, and science being in service to ideas. What kind of spaces might we create
in order to foster that type of thinking? Could we create centers for creativity where we cultivate, champion,
and measure this type of thinking? I don’t want you for a minute
to stop championing art education, but I do want you to be thoughtful
about the chant. When we say we want creativity
in our schools, we often say, “Don’t kill the arts,” But today, I want that battle cry
to address art’s critical value, “Don’t kill the ideas.” I want my own children
to think like artists no matter what career path
they may choose. I believe art education is essential
for 21st century learning. And with your help, we can flip
the counterproductive messaging and allow our educators
to develop centers for creativity where ideas are king and curiosity reigns. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? | Cindy Foley | TEDxColumbus

  1. She is so right. There are modalities that do not require formal artistic education. In fact, it may be blocking some very talented artists from creating in their own style because they are so scared to be bullied by those professors who know how one should draw or paint. Kandinsky once said that art must have psychological meaning, the emotional influence on people. Who cares if objects are perfectly painted or drawn if they don't touch our hearts? They are just beautiful reflections, nothing else. Yet simple geometrical figures such as lines, circles, and triangles creatively put together may even make you cry – that is what we do with our art of Neurographica that I am teaching. I see people being deeply emotionally involved in their drawing, going thru a deep transformation, talking to their subconscious and changing their thinking patterns and root believes that limit their lives and their creative process

  2. I'm crying. This is the best thing. Don't kill the ideas and don't kill the light in the eyes of our children. xo

  3. Not EVERYTHING is art, thus it’s weird and irresponsible to tell anyone (especially kids) that they are smart … because some of them aren’t. Encouraging kids to become decent human beings is way more important than telling them that they could do whatever you they want, because in reality it’s NOT true, a few examples will not regulate things in general.

  4. Hard to listen to because Foley speaks in such a high,, screechy voice with very staccato phrasing, which becomes irritating finally. She needs to learn to lower her register and speak more melodically.

  5. I think teaching art is an oxymoron! It is like giving me a direction on what should i feel about everything!

  6. Picasso visited one of caves with ancient stone aged art on the walls – when he exited the cave he famously exclaimed "we have learned nothing".

    This TED talk hits the potential answers to the issues of creativity facing global western acculturused countries employing standardised models of measured progression.

  7. When people get nervous, as in when they have to speak publicly, their mouths get very dry. How would you do if you were up there?

  8. All and Most, are two big words with rather grand claims, that come together to mean failure

    Because first comes the counting, then comes the selling. A lesson learned once upon a time, allegedly.

    A traveling salesman's nightmare? Or a petty traders commercial crimes complex. In the form of a strange bazar at the center of a bizarre island prison, stumbled into in a delirium

    For drivers of hard bargains? Selling hopes, dreams, dead or alive, fresh or dried, escape plans, broken promises, magic fetishes, miscellany, and all things a-sundry

    All for sale? Only because logic and circular reasoning will not be denied. And paradoxical thinking is the fastest way to delay the inevitable, that comes with knowing the self

    What goes around, comes around.

    In a fully realized knowledge continent floating on itself. Castaways play hide and seek with what they think they ought not to know.

    Self contained and out of reach from all other states, like-masses, like like-minds, clump together and become inseparable. Isolated in their oneness

    The denied and the deniers, having planted a flag in this common ground they now share, claim this land as their own, now and forever more, till death do us part

    Only nooks and crannies now left to re-discover, offering temporary refuge from times tempest, and the persistence of this kind of knowing,

    That seeps into soil and water through buried flesh, or is it suppressed memories? Circumnavigating and negotiating the tricky back passages and slip roads of the self

    Before awareness swings back round and reconnects with everything else that ever was. Drivers, on an island of stuff, floating in a sea of the unrealized.

    Mind in motion, traveling on roads of its own makings. Through time and across space. A fleshy motorist driving across an island atol made of matter enmeshed with delusion

  9. i disagree.. she doesn´t know about the reality of anothers professionals.. every scientist researchs a lot about the topic they have in hand, and we look every kind of theme.. I think it is not the art education.. it a thing of being smart and intelligent .Nothing More!!!

  10. Well said , art is to feel free , motivate ,dream with reality , experience and experiment. I love your child imagination ,if she said art it means she had seen some piece of art like that

  11. I had lecturers kill my ideas, they were bad at thinking here in the UK but in Rotterdam was the complete opposite….but as an independent artist I am a voracious researcher…everything interests me and I have to read it, study it, think it, follow where it takes me….and the ideas happen…

  12. I think the stick figure was more creative than the horse.. It clearly was funny, and a little different. Not as well drawn, but quite creative.

  13. First step in teaching art…stop “teaching” art. Stop trying to quantify and theorize and hypothesize what you think it is and should be. Three letters of the alphabet have never been so misunderstood.

  14. I use to get downgraded for adding something to a drawing or doing something extra using what I just learned. The most memorable experience was after I just learned to draw a city block using vanishing points for perspective. I picked it up fairly fast so I started making some different shape windows on my buildings following all the rules for drawing windows and made sure that perspectives where correct. She dropped me to a D because I refused to change them back. She told me I couldn’t do that because that was too advanced for what she was teaching. I was always like wtf why are you telling me to hold myself back. Art is the expression of oneself

  15. be an artist is not only be creative. I mean you need to draw things, not only "mud" when we speak about painting. Most of the artists are creative, but not every creative human is an artist.

  16. I think she has some great points and ideas but it sounds like she has a retainer (maybe Invisalign retainers) in her mouth and I felt her annunciation was distracting me from what she was actually saying at times. Maybe I am nuts, but if I am correct, I would encourage her to take out her retainers when giving speeches/talks in the future.
    Smart person.

  17. Very good. I would hope that we might add is 'testing' those creative developments. Not a test for the art student but a test against the substance of the 'creative.'

  18. Good talk, but basically she is saying: To educate kids about Art Assignments: Have them make "Master Copies," allow them to be Curious, and Play (aka UnSchool Art, because it is human nature)

  19. Awesome ! As an art educator, and creativity advocate, your message is EXACTLY what I've been promoting for the last 20 years. Thank you!

  20. Yes, yes, we all must learn how to think creatively, but without knowing or focusing on the fundamentals first, it's like trying to write a novel without first learning the alphabet. Teach art students how to make a horse look like a horse before you start to abstract it. I've seen too many instructors in universities start with the later and forgo the former. Please, we should all be having lectures on the value of representational art as a precursor to abstraction otherwise we will all be going to art galleries and seeing '12 Million Dollar Stuffed Sharks' in formaldehyde tanks and we will be told it is art, when in fact it is marketing and branding. That is another conversation.

  21. This lady is off of her knocker, she rambles on and on about creativity and ideas, but doesnt specifiy how to do it. All the great artists in history learned the basics of art, they spent years learning before they made their masterpieces and that includes Monet. Learning the basics allows people to be more creative because it allows them to get their ideaa across and do what they want.

  22. I’m lucky enough to be in a University where they teach us how to think like artists and develop our ideas, embracing ambiguity and create meaningful stuff, rather than copying what others have done. But we do have art history and philosophy classes, to help us understand what others created before us and its perception in its contemporary society.

  23. Its ridiculous the idea of teaching art. You cannot teach art you may teach skills but art is something that you simply cant teach. I think its important to understand the art history but the idea of teach you to be an artist its ridiculous. Thats why there is many painters but only a few artists! To become an artist you must create something new and unique in the artworld but how do you teach someone to create something that doesnt exist yet? It only exists in your conscious the ideas but your teacher tell you to do exactly the opposite and follow specific materials for each art project. You cannot teach art because everyone thinks differently

  24. 2 minutes into the talk, i came to the point of muting the video and turning on the subtitles.I truly don’t want to be rude but mouth sounds are truly hard for some people to tolerate. The sound make me so nervous and uncomfortable to the point i totally lost my concentration on what she was saying and all i could only hear was the mouth noise.

  25. Great talk… Nurturing creativity and innovative thinking is so important! I love how Cindy articulated it. It builds individuality and as she says, new ideas… I teach art in London, and luckily I do it privately and have the freedom to do so without limiting the creative process of the little artists, but encouraging them to bring out their own ideas. Thank you for this talk, Cindy, it’s inspiring. 👏🏽♥️

  26. Don't want to offend anyone, I'm just giving me honest opinion – I found no creativity in this video on creative thinking… actually I got confused as I kept watching as to what I am watching this for…

  27. I think a practical solution to her stated problem would be to start teaching more design or “strategy” classes in school. Designing for a specific class or client forces you to be creative in a strategic way of thinking in order to obtain a goal.

    I think that what she is a proponent for is for encouraging expression and exploration. I think these can be tied to creativity but they’d tend to be less productive. I would be really interested in knowing how she thinks an art classroom should be led practically.

    And as others have said, there’s nothing wrong with teaching skills in art class. Some forms of art, especially in the renaissance were all about creating beautiful works of art that required amazing skill—and not much of a need for the ability to embrace ambiguity. In recent years, art has moved to more of expression, rather than creating beautiful things though, so she’s most likely more so embracing the new trends in art.

    Regardless, this talk is very good to bring up challenges and to get you thinking and talking about what art classes should look like.

  28. The hardest thing to do as an artist is deferentially seeing with a new fresh eyes the same work you have just finished.

    Abdullah Nasher
    3d artist & Freethinker

  29. 13:10 that woman in the bottom rigt corner better be sleep-deprived, because I can't imagine any logical reasons to not be engaged in this lecture and to sigh like this.

  30. Sadly, education of any kind in today's society is reduced to testing and getting good scores. Creativity has been pushed out of importance. Play time, unstructured learning, and creativity are seen as impediments as to learning. When society only demands and expects perfection and regurgitation of fact, humanity will suffer. My own father dissed my art and artistic ability… he stated that art is irrelevant to human society. I'd always tell him that humans are creative beings and without creativity we would not have civilization. We are not computers. I've worked with children that have great difficulty with being spontaneous and creative. It's sad. It's an ability that should come naturally. We need more transdisciplinarian research.

  31. A limited illadvised point of view. Ideas are the things that separates one artist from another, one art (or otherwise) movement from another, but this speaker has completely disrespected craft within this discussion, not to mention the business of sustaining oneself as an artist. There is no recognition of the dedicated time it takes to build a creative mind, this non-artist, she's just married to one, has a very one dimensional view on how to think as a artist. You can't grade ideas, they are based on context, look at storytelling in animation, games and movies. More artists in schools is the answer.

  32. this presentation was all over the place
    i dont know whether my brain isn't big enough or something but this felt so unorganized

  33. I read a comment that she had the flu and now I can hear it in her voice and hearing her voice makes my throat feel sore lol like that fuzzy sore feeling like your throat is closing up omg

  34. Anyone heard of Educationalist Charlotte Mason? English, revolutionary, champion of “idea” based learning, deceased since 1923? This capsulized her main tenet without ever using her name. I’ve studied, taught, and written about Mason for 23 years and her name deserves to be mentioned here because she would never want to “kill the ideas” and lived for math, art, and science to be in service to ideas. I loved the trans-disciplinary research concept because that describes my mind, my life, my entire drive. Please forgive that as it’s not intended as a boast. Thank you!

  35. Creativity is really thinking outside the box. Politically and socially America does not want people who think outside the box, especially as illustrated by changes in the country during the past several years. Therein lies the dilemma. Those who think outside the box in America are perceived as a threat. We applaud the financially successful results of their experimentation but are fully prepared to shun them if the results are not profitable. America is a victim of its narrow creativity. I applaud this Tedx in principle but recognize that in practice America is not fertile ground or open for creativity. We just think we are.

  36. It’s because education is based on box ticking. Even at degree level in art. It saves time and provides statistics on outcome. I once had to judge a children’s Harry Potter art competition. The most beautiful pictures were produced by the age 5-8 group. By age 16 it had all been knocked out of them.

  37. Great talk. I still bristled at moments where she talked about "learners". Perhaps unintentionally she seemed to be getting back to the straight jacket that schools impose. You can keep using different words, but people are not products, and at times I still saw the industrial product model creeping back into her talk.

    There is also a central question she did not answer. Everyone can't be Monet. You can take the point of view that he was just another disposable old W guy. Or more realistically that not everyone is artistic, or creative, and that if they were, there would be no capacity to produce and employ their output. Youtube is a little like that, in that it is now easier than ever to create and produce and distribute videos, but most people won't do it, and a few people end up with the millions of viewers, while most people are lost.

  38. Art ed looks more like "color by numbers" in most settings – follow the rules, make it look real, replicate…etc.
    So sad.
    Creativity on the other hand allows for imagination, whimsy, lateral thinking, interpretations, unique versions, breaking the rules and THAT'S what my classes are all about.
    Fortunately for my students, I'm self taught and a rebel.

  39. nice speech but you cant teach creativity if some1 dont have it – it wont help him even 20 years of best art schools in world and can easily beat him to the ground talent with no education whats so ever

  40. I was drawing while listening…so I stuck my pen in my ear…metaphor?
    I've always been an advocate for the creative problem solving portion of being an artist and teaching art…not all mistakes are bad…:)

  41. Very rarely do I teach a student at university who has any artistic skills, all they have been taught is how to generate ideas and no means how to manifest them

  42. I just watched thid video and it inspires me so much. I am an art studies student, I often question this field but I know I love it and this talk helped and inspired me more. Art education is really important in today's society. We all need to think like an artist.

  43. One, from one punch man is good example of how to be successful using imagination without any fundamentals of drawing d^-^b

  44. As a creative person I just came up with a new phrase specific to Ted TEDx Talks that relates to speakers with cotton mouth – I call it "TED Tongue". As in, "Cindy Meyers Foley had TED Tongue when she gave her talk on creativity."

  45. wow, I remember being very young and doing exactly that. I did not understand at the time why I aw things so differently than I was "supposed" to. Particularly with matching assignments at this elementary level.

  46. As an artist, the problem that I encounter again and again is that art classes don't teach fundamentals if they teach anything at all. It's something that comes up very frequently in conversations with fellow artists.

    There's no place for "I can't even draw a stickman" in art classroom. When people get taught the fundamental technical skills of drawing, they see what they can do. The problems start when they aren't.

    I can't tell about creativity, because that's something that I do instinctively since it's my main strength. I do it mainly to express my emotions and interests. Exercises, drawing from life is just another chore I do to increase my skills. I don't need to enjoy that part, I just need to get good teaching. Which is what was missing in basically every art classes I participated in.
    When I was in advertisement junior college, we had 6 hours of drawing classes per week. Except that the teacher didn't bother to teach. I improved my skills only because I had a fundamentals of drawing book. At 4th semester I had to show other student how to measure proportions with a pencil.

    In my eyes, this talk is another example of the problem – instead of addressing the problems with lack of instruction and general low level of teaching, we get more bullshitting. Like there are different kinds of people. Some naturally experiment with ideas, some naturally stick to facts – the first will probably feel the best with various kind of transformational or fantastic art, while the latter with stuff like natural history illustration. Both kinds need fundamentals.

    Creativity can be taught on different classes, like basics of psychology.

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