Thoughtful Question

May 7, 2012

All this talk about proficiency based education

With all these conversations at the local level, state level, and national level about competency based, standards based, and/or students centered learning I turn to you… the experts on arts education in the classroom. And, I have one single question that I hope you will take a few minutes to answer. Answer it for yourselves or perhaps pose the question at a teachers meeting in your school or district. Or take a few minutes and answer it at the bottom of this blog post….

What do you want ALL students to know about arts education when they complete their PK-High School learning?

And while you are thinking about that go one step further… I saw this one on a blog post written by Marilyn Stewart on the National Art Education Association Monthly Mentor blog. Marilyn calls it the “20 year test”. This is how it goes (feel free to change ‘art’ to arts’)….

Imagine that you are in the produce section of your local market, twenty years from now.  Another shopper sees you and comes over to speak, saying, “I remember you!  You were my art teacher twenty years ago.”

Marilyn goes on… I want you think about what you want to know—when you smile back at this student of yours from long ago—what you want to know that this now-adult-person understands as a result of her or his time with you and your art program. 

This adult shopper—your ex-student—is not likely to be working as an artist when you meet.  However, regardless of what your student from the past is doing with her or his life, think about what you would want this person to understand—deeply—about art and our experiences with art.  

If you have a minute to do this, write it down: Twenty years from now, I want my students to understand _____________________.

This happens to me almost every time I go to the grocery store or in almost any other store near my home. I am guessing if you’ve taught a while that it happens to you if you live in the town where you teach/taught. It’s a wonderful feeling to bump into these students, as I fumble around for their name. After leaving the store I get into my car and wonder what do they remember from being in my class?! Take a few minutes and write down what you want them to know and integrate that into your teaching. It could be one way to insure that it is taught and a better chance of them knowing it in 20 years!


  1. I would hope a student of mine twenty years from now would understand that creativity is the basis for all problem-solving in any discipline. The Fine Arts allow creativity to spark and grow, mature with purpose and transfer to other disciplines.

  2. Thank you Molly for your contribution! Excellent!

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