Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Performance vs. Mastery

This is just a beautiful blog post from Marla McLean, atelierista at School Within School at the Peabody School in Washington, D.C.  The photography is beautiful, and I love how the children's process is documented and given more attention that the product.

The idea of working collaboratively to achieve mastery, as opposed to each child performing independently, is so important.  

[The] process of modeling and working with children is based on the idea of learning called ZPD, or Zone of Proximal Development developed by Vygotsky.
To cite directly from Vygotsky, this most widely known concept of his theory represented “the distance between the actual level of development as determined by independent problem solving [without guided instruction] and the level of potential development as determined by problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers”.
The thesis behind this “zone” is that at a certain stage in development, children can solve a certain range of problems only when they are interacting with people and in cooperation with peers.
As arts are being slashed from school budgets in an effort to save money and focus more on "important" things like reading and math, it is vital that we examine the real impact of these decisions.  If we focus on product - a finished art piece - that comes home at the end of a day, it may not seem that important, just another thing among our children's items that we collect, display, store or maybe pitch in the trash.  But when we look at the process, we can see how rich and meaningful those sculptures really are.

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