pedagogies, methodologies, and theories that present choice as the primary catalyst for facilitating meaningful artmaking by students
Plug and Play is a choice-focused curriculum designed for a high school Art 1 course. These students have a vast range of art skills, experiences, and knowledge. Some will take art classes every year and others are simply looking for the easiest way to get their required art credit. These students also range in age from 9th - 12th grade and are typically mixed grade classes.
Purtee and Sands (2021) suggest "there is no one-size-fits-all approach" to choice-focused curriculum (p. 8). It's common to assert that teachers new to these methods will need to figure out what is best for their classroom and their students (Douglas & Jaquith, 2009; Purtee & Sands, 2021; Taylor, 2021a) Why is that? Yes, every teacher's situation is different in terms of schedules, students, resources, and classroom layouts, as Purtee and Sands (2021) express, but shouldn't a curriculum be designed to address all those differences? Shouldn't a curriculum function regardless of the various inequities throughout our schools? The inequities are the one thing we can count on as reflected in the description of the typical Art 1 class above. I have never had a class filled with students all equally skilled or prepared for the course material. I have never had all the resources my students wanted or needed. I have never had a class unaffected by poverty, language, or mental health.
If I can create a curriculum that addresses these inequalities in my own classroom, then should it not be able to address the varying inequalities in other classrooms?
Why call it Plug and Play?
I worked at a video game store for several years in my college days. Each Christmas, plug and play devices would be stacked high on the shelves. When a grandmother would come in looking for a video game for their grandchild, unaware of the difference between Xbox and Gamecube, my colleagues and I would recommend one. "All the child has to do is plug this joystick into the tv, and they'll instantly have access to tons of games," we'd say. These plug and play devices were easy and practical because anyone could use them.
Similarly, the Plug and Play curriculum seeks to provide a model that can be applied to any number of classrooms with relative ease. Do I expect it will work perfectly for everyone? I hope that it does, but am prepared to accept when it doesn't. Those times when it fails to address the needs of a teacher or group of students is a chance for us to work collaboratively as we would ask our students to. Together we can take a single model and attempt to address it's flaws in a way that satisfies the needs of the many instead of the few. Many pages throughout this site will have discussion sections for that very purpose. If you have questions, issues with major components, or just find a typo, please engage with those discussions.
The curriculum is the teacher's creativity at work
(Brei, 2011a; Carmody, 2019; Dewey, 1990; Szekely, 2005; Taylor, 2021b).
Therefore, it may be difficult for you to enact someone else's curriculum, but your worth as a teacher isn't only in the lessons you create. It's in the way you interact with your students. The way you encourage their ideas, support them, and provide an environment where they can grow is what you can take pride in. So, you must let go of your curriculum as your own masterpiece and create a space for your students to create their own masterpieces (Douglas and Jaquith, 2009; Szekely, 2005; Taylor, 2019). That being said, there is also room built into Plug and Play for you to create your own experiences specific to your students, resources, and passions. Ideally, by playing along with the existing programs in Plug and Play, you'll come to fully understand the fundamentals of a choice-focused curriculum and feel equipped to create your own programming.
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Brei, B. (2011a). I can make whatever i want? My journey into choice-based art education. Texas Trends in Art Education, 2011. 23-28. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279695/m1/29/
Carmody, R. (2019). Using student goal setting and feedback to encourage independent learning. Australian Art Education, 40(1), 135–154.
Dewey, J. (1990). The school and society and the child and the curriculum. United States: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published in 1900,1902).
Douglas, K. M., & Jaquith, D. B. (2009). Engaging learners through artmaking: Choice-based art education in the classroom. United States: Teachers College Press.
Purtee, M., & Sands, I. (2021). Making artists. United States: Davis Publications, Incorporated.
Taylor, J. (2019, March). Break it down choice [PowerPoint Slides]. National Art Education Association Convention, Boston, MA, United States.
Taylor, J. (2021a, February 5). 4 innovative ways to create with constraints. The Art of Education University. https://theartofeducation.edu/2021/02/05/4-innovative-ways-to-create-with-constraints/
Taylor, J. (2021b, June 7). How flexible is FLEX? 3 ways to use FLEX to supplement lesson planning. The Art of Education University. https://theartofeducation.edu/2021/06/09/june-how-flexible-is-flex-3-ways-to-use-flex-in-your-classroom/