Established in 2001, the Teaching for Artistic BehaviorTM (TAB) organization is a grassroots educational movement entirely developed and maintained by art teachers. This concept comes directly from choice-based art education practices and action research in visual art classrooms around the United States. Our Board of Directors are charged with upholding TAB’s Mission, Vision and Professional Development offerings. Teaching for Artistic Behavior became incorporated in 2007, in order to better serve the needs of choice-based art educators.

We recognize that there are many varied ways of offering choice in art education, and that many art educators provide full or modified choice art education to fit their particular art programs and district requirements. This online forum supports teachers who are developing, have developed or plan to develop an art program with the purpose of providing students choices in their art making experiences in the classroom. Over recent years, the terms “Choice-based,” “Teaching for Artistic Behavior,” “TAB,” “TAB-Choice” and “Centers approach” are often interchanged. In response to an off-list 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. The learning environment provides resources and opportunities to construct knowledge and meaning in the process of making art. Choice-Based Art Education utilizes multiple forms of assessment to support student and teacher growth.

If you offer your students choice of materials while providing ample time and space for them to pursue their own ideas most of the time, then you are a choice-based art educator.

TEACHING FOR ARTISTIC BEHAVIOR, Inc. is a grassroots organization developed by and for teachers and supports choice-based art education. 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 (MassArt), teachers working in isolation discovered others who also held belief in the child as the artist. With the support of MassArt, NAEA and The Education Alliance at Brown University, the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Partnership (TAB) was formed in 2001 and incorporated in 2007. TAB has become a visible presence online, at NAEA conferences, and at regional gatherings of choice-based practitioners. All choice-based art educators are welcome in the TAB organization.

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, menus, resources, materials and tools. Students move independently between centers, utilizing materials, tools and resources as needed in their art making. Centers are arranged to provide students with independent learning opportunities.

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.

TAB-CHOICE is a phrase that has emerged on various art education forums, as teachers connect the concept (choice) with the organization (TAB). It has become a convenient way to explain TAB’s purpose; you could even include “authentic art education” to more fully illustrate the concept, as in “TAB-Choice Authentic Art Education.”