SchoolArts Room

Studio Habits of Mind

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Aug 5, 2014

One of the best things about being editor of SchoolArts is the opportunity to meet, get to know, and work with so many exemplary art teachers from around the country and the world.

art educators

So often these days I “meet” them online and develop a relationship over time. If I am really lucky, I may get to meet them in person at state and national conferences. For the most part, these are art teachers who are using the Internet to their best advantage, promoting their art programs, freely sharing ideas, and becoming involved in thoughtful online conversations and discussions. The Internet gives us access to each other in ways that never existed before.

Let me share an example. The artist of the drawings shown here is Rama Hughes, an art teacher who teaches at Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Los Angeles, California. Our SchoolArts staff is included in these engaging sketches he made at the NAEA convention in San Diego last March. (He especially captured the hat and gestures of our publisher, Wyatt Wade.) Over time we have published many articles by Rama, who is a talented illustrator as well as a dedicated art teacher and who has a Facebook page where he chronicles his family in expressive line drawings.

What stands out in Rama’s articles? He has intriguing, original ideas and it is evident that the processes his students use are those of the artist: problem solving, learning, investigating, and discovery. You may know these as Studio Habits of Mind or Studio Thinking.

Studio Habits of Mind/Studio Thinking

The research-based techniques of studio learning include Develop Craft, Envision, Understand Arts Community, Observe, Engage & Persist, Reflect, and Express & Explore, are most recently detailed in Studio Thinking 2, Teachers College Press, 2013. Through observing what skills and modes of thinking art classes teach, Studio Habits of Mind sets forth best practices of art rooms and explains how these dispositions enhance artistic thinking. These habits will serve as SchoolArts’ themes for the 2014-2015 volume year and one will be explored in each issue. Many of the articles this month include the development of craft and skill.

The habits of mind are non-hierarchical and equal in value. They are helpful for teachers to plan instruction and assess student learning. Studio Habits of Mind complement the new National Standards for the Visual Arts and state standards. According to Studio Thinking 2, “Studio Habits of Mind identify more general cognitive and attitudinal dispositions that allow students to meet these standards.” If you are using studio thinking in your art room, we invite you to share your experiences with SchoolArts. Check out our writer’s guidelines and then let me know if you have any questions about writing.

Studio Habits of Mind

  • Develop Craft
  • Envision
  • Understand Arts Community
  • Observe
  • Engage & Persist
  • Reflect
  • Express
  • Stretch & Explore

Hetland L., Winner, E., Veenam S., Sheridan, K. (2013) Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of a Visual Arts Education, NY: Teachers College Press