The last two sentences in the article: Allowing Artistic Agency in the Elementary Classroom by David Rufo, are particularly insightful and I will use these notions to inform further exploration of inquiry in my classroom this year.

Rufo states: “Children need time to create unfettered by systems, institutional expectations, and government-directed assessments.  Art does not conveniently fit into, and should not be forced to adhere to, the ways in which other curricula are designed and put into practice.”  Rufo provided Open Studio and Read Aloud time for his classes.  He found that during these times, students felt more comfortable creating without the confines of a predetermined lesson.  Through observation, Rufo realized that the process was more important than the product.  I believe this to be true.  However, I feel as though I am expected to produce “take-home” artwork.  This expectation comes from parents, other teachers, and administration.  Even though I want to stress creativity and experiential learning, parents want to see an end result.

One of the things I do when planning a lesson is decide what process or skill I want to teach and figure out which project suits that need best. Students can then take home a project and explain what they learned, or more importantly, how they learned it.  Some of the lessons I have presented as inquiry-based lessons needed more structure than others.  What would happen if I didn’t structure as much?  Would it take longer?  Would the students learn more or become frustrated without a result?

When I think about inquiry, I think about the process of learning.  How do students come about finding new information or have an experience?  How can I set up an environment or an opportunity to allow for that discovery?  The word: inquire means to question.  Becky Gartley told me she always starts with a question.  What is that question?  What question will ignite those creative thoughts?  What will spark critical thinking?  Is it an experience?  How can I plan for and provide an experience that will allow students freedom in their learning choices?

David Rufo was interested in allowing for more latitude, in giving students more freedom to choose their learning experiences.  He uses the term self-governance.  I am concerned with how to meet the expectations of teaching my discipline (meeting standards, adopting anchors, planning interdisciplinary lessons, etc) while allowing for as much student self-governance as possible.  As a facilitator of inquiry, the teacher needs to make a decision when something is or is not working.  That’s the balance I attempt to seek out.