If you teach art to kids, you’ve probably heard of the “process vs. product” debate. Is it more important to focus on the process of creating or to make sure kids create a successful product?
Of course we want kids to love the process of creating art. If they don’t enjoy the process, they won’t choose to create when they don’t have to.
But while both process and product are vital aspects of teaching art to kids, process reigns supreme. This quote by James Clear explains it well.
“Why focus on the process when the world is outcome driven? Don’t results matter? Yes, results do matter. But if you optimize for the outcome, you win one time. If you optimize for a process that leads to great outcomes, you can win again and again.” ~ James Clear
So here’s the key… When you’re teaching kids to “love the process”, make sure that process can lead to successful outcomes. (And one of those “successful outcomes” is for your students to love the process!)
Here are seven ways we can help students love the process of creating art.
1. Focus on the learning
Part of learning any new skill is trying, failing, making adjustments, and trying again. Encourage students to focus on what they’re learning without the pressure of getting everything right the first time.
2. Celebrate progress
Break down new skills and complex projects into consecutive steps. This helps kids gain a growing sense of accomplishment as they work toward a goal. Encourage them to enjoy each step and celebrate the progress they make along the way.
3. Embrace mistakes
Making mistakes is a natural part of the creative process. We can encourage students to embrace their mistakes as learning opportunities when we model making mistakes. In this way, mistakes can be something to value rather than something to be ashamed of.
4. Provide meaningful feedback
Feedback and praise are powerful tools for helping students improve their skills and love the process of creating. The most helpful feedback will focus on progress and effort more than the final product. Praise should be specific and relate to an action that could be repeated.
5. Create a positive environment
Make sure your environment is positive, supportive, and encouraging. Provide opportunities for students to collaborate and encourage each other. Working together on a class auction project or school-wide fundraiser can be a great way to do this.
6. Model how you love the process of creating
As a teacher, it’s important to model a love for your own process of creating art. A good opportunity to do this is when you demonstrate the steps of a project.
Talk about what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling as you work. Share what you enjoy about it. Your authentic enthusiasm will be contagious. You’ll find this helps your classroom management, too.
7. Encourage a reflective mindset
Provide opportunities for students to reflect on their work and their process. Help them set goals by identifying what has worked well for them and where they could improve.
Be sure to share your creative struggles with your students. Model how you reflect on your own work. Let kids see how you experience disappointment but value what you learn from it.
Because “the process” is what we do to reach an end result, that result will depend on our process. For both teachers and students, learning to love the process of creating art is an essential part of growing as an artist.
an inspiring quote
“To crave the result but not the process, is to guarantee disappointment.” ~ James Clear
To create anything requires spending time in the process of creating it. So if kids don’t enjoy the process, they may never get to the end result. And even if they do, they won’t be eager to do more of it.
To raise creative kids who enjoy making art, help them learn to love the process and not just the result.