Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994


TAB Choice Essay

An essay by Diane Jaquith. (copyright 2019)

We recognize that there are many varied ways of offering choice in art education, and that many art educators do so in varying degrees depending upon their particular art programs and district requirements. The listserv (TAB-ChoiceArtEd Yahoo Group) supports teachers who are developing, have developed or plan to develop an art program with the purpose of providing students maximum choices in their art making experiences in the classroom.  We've noticed that the terms "Choice-based," "Teaching for Artistic Behavior," "TAB," and "Centers approach" are often interchanged. In response to a request for clarification of the terms, here are some definitions that we use in our teaching.


CHOICE-BASED ART EDUCATION regards students as artists and offers them real choices for responding to their own ideas and interests through the making of art. This concept supports multiple modes of learning and teaching for the diverse needs of students. In the learning environment, resources and opportunities to construct knowledge and meaning in the process of making art are provided. Choice-Based Art Education utilizes multiple forms of assessment to support student and teacher growth.


If you offer your students full choice most of the time, then you are a choice-based art educator.


THE TEACHING FOR ARTISTIC BEHAVIOR PARTNERSHIP (TAB) is an organization that brings together choice-based art programs from around the United States. The concept emerged over 30 years ago in Massachusetts classrooms through the need for more authentic art making experiences. United through Massachusetts College of Art (MCA), teachers working in isolation discovered others who also held belief in the child as the artist. With the support of MCA, NAEA and The Education Alliance at Brown University, the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Partnership (TAB) was formed in 2001. Since then, TAB has become a visible presence online, at NAEA conferences, and at regional gatherings.

Teaching for Artistic Behavior - Choice-based Art Education

Captain Elementary School's Choice-based art program


All choice-based art educators are welcome as members of the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Partnership. As a member of TAB, you are likely a choice-based art educator, or friend of choice-based art education.


A CENTERS APPROACH reflects the learning environment, with different learning centers set up in the classroom. Commonly seen in primary classrooms, centers offer students a focused learning experience. Most choice-based art programs offer separate media centers, such as painting, clay, printmaking, etc. These centers function as mini art studios, complete with instructional information printed on menus, resources, materials and tools. Students move independently between centers, utilizing materials, tools and resources as needed in their art making.


Centers refer to the learning environment, and are not a methodology. You cannot be a "centers-based" educator, but you can be a choice-based educator who provides centers in your classroom.


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