1st Edition

Teaching to Support Children's Artistic Independence How Children's Creativity Can Inform Art Education

By George Szekely Copyright 2022
    218 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    218 Pages 44 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This engagingly written, research- and practice-based book defines how art teachers can build on students’ creative initiatives without depending on adult-imposed lesson plans and school requirements. In doing so, art educator and author George Szekely explores the role of the arts in developing children’s creativity and sense of purpose, and reminds readers that students in the art classroom are unique artists, designers, and innovators. Against the backdrop of a school culture that over-emphasizes compliance and standardization, Szekely recognizes the importance of the role of the art teacher in supporting the artistic independence and creative flare that occurs naturally in students of all ages in the classroom.

    Providing real-life examples of classrooms and schools that work towards championing child artists, this text arms teachers with the skills necessary to listen to their students and support them in presenting their ideas in class. Ultimately, Szekely challenges readers to focus the practice of art teaching on the student’s creative process, rather than the teacher’s presentation of art.

    Written for pre-service and in-service art educators, teacher educators, and researchers, Teaching to Support Children’s Creativity and Artistic Independence demonstrates that an openness to youthful and inquisitive visual expression inspires a more rewarding learning experience for both teacher and child artists that can support a life-long love of art.

    Section 1: Reimagining Art Teaching

    1: A New Mindset

    2: Finding the Artist in Every Student

    3: Qualities of an Independent Artist

    4: Creating the Art Class

    5: A Different Kind of Art Class

    Section 2: Relationships in the Classroom

    6: The Unknown and the Individual in the Art Class

    7: Building Relationships with Art Students

    8: Students Seeing Themselves as Artists

    9: When Art Becomes Difficult

    Section 3: Home and School Art

    10: Separating Art from School

    11: Students Beyond the Art Class

    12: Bridging the Gap Between School and Home Art

    13: Adults United

    14: Art Lessons as Life Lessons


    George Szekely is Senior Professor and Area Head of Art Education at the University of Kentucky, USA. He is the author of numerous books including Art Teaching, Play and Creativity in Art Teaching, and Art Rooms as Centers for Design Education, all published by Routledge.

    Teaching to Support Children’s Artistic Independence: How Children’s Creativity Can Inform Art Education, is a qualitative study of children’s personal stories, experiments and experiences. It describes for teachers the importance of teaching children artistic independence and the power of developing thinking, emotional growth and learning to value the importance and power of a child’s thoughts and how this has a foundation in the art class room. This book is especially important because it’s a testament to children and their development and that they are the stars in the art classroom. The book gives a perspective on the importance of young artists as thinkers, and inventors. It goes further to discuss how young artists should be encouraged to develop their primary thoughts and be encouraged to search for meaning and ways to materialize their thoughts. Ultimately, Szekely states young artists need to value themselves and while doing this they will develop cognitive skills such as the ability to perceive and react, process and understand, store information, make decisions and produce visual images. The book gives rich examples of how making art in the art room can lead to a lifetime of unlimited rich thoughts and creative inventions.”

    -- Bernard Young, Professor, Arizona State University, USA

    “George Szekely’s writings and teachings radically challenged my beliefs about Art Education by simply reminding me what it felt like to play, to imagine, to create - not in a way that pleased adults, but in a manner that honored my eight-year-old self. This book pushes me yet again. Szekely's conviction that learners are independent thinkers and makers worthy of respect and support is in conflict with much of the normative thinking that dominates art classrooms across the country. So many young artists have been left behind. When our notions of art conflict with their curiosities, wonderings and aesthetic preferences, we send a clear message: art is not for you. In a Szekely classroom, we don’t teach, per say, but rather, collaborate. We are granted a gift of insight. Through the artists in our midst, we experience the world not as it is, but as it can be.” 

    -- Cindy M. Foley, Executive Assistant Director, Director of Learning and Experience, Columbus Museum of Art, USA

    “Drawing on a lifetime of experience in engaging young learners, Szekely shows a profound respect for children as competent, imaginative visionaries who are ready, with strategic prompts from their teacher, to joyfully explore and manipulate their own worlds. Anyone entrusted with the creative development of children will appreciate his lively practical guidance and insightful pedagogical tips.” 

    -- Richard Siegesmund, Professor Emeritus, Art and Design Education, Northern Illinois University, USA

    “The publication a new book by George Szekely is cause for celebration in the community of art educators who support student choice and agency. He writes passionately about the gifts, abilities and ideas of even the youngest students. He challenges teachers and schools to notice and embrace these gifts so children can grow as independent makers. Incorporating play and surprise to engage his students he offers them the stage to share what fills their pockets and their imaginations.”

    -- Katherine Douglas, co-founder Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), Massachusetts College of Art and Design TAB Institute, Massachusetts, USA