Academic journal article Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice

Inviting School Success: Invitational Education and the Art Class

Academic journal article Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice

Inviting School Success: Invitational Education and the Art Class

Article excerpt

"Effective teaching may be the hardest job there is" (William Glasser)

It is acknowledged, nationally and internationally, that Invitational Education is actively practised in many schools. However, there is a paucity of articles describing the relationship between Invitational Education and specific disciplines at the elementary and high school levels. As such, this article attempts to address this shortcoming by discussing how and in what manner Invitational Education is applicable to the Art classroom. Applying the principles of Invitational Education, the Art classroom can become a classroom that not only facilitates students in achieving their potential but, in addition, create a positive and enhancing learning environment for all students and teachers.


Invitational Theory/Education is a student-centred approach to the teaching-learning process. Founded on the ideas and concepts of the Perceptual Tradition (Combs, 1962; Combs, Richards, & Richards, 1988), Cognitive-Behavioural Approach (Ellis, 1970; Meichenbaum, 1974) and the Self-Concept Theory (Jourard, 1968, 1971; Rogers, 1969; Purkey, 1970), invitational theory affirms the "power of human perception and its impact on self-development" (Schmidt, 2004, p. 28).

Invitational Education is a theory of practice for communicating caring and appropriate messages to facilitate individuals to achieve to their full potential as well as for identifying and changing those forces in schools which would defeat and destroy potential.

Invitational education has four main interrelated areas which when working together and at a balanced level can create an optimally inviting and positive learning environment and experience for the whole student (physical, social, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual). The four main areas are the Four Assumptions, Five P's, Levels of Functioning, and Four Dimensions. These areas all have an impact on the way in which teachers can enhance the learning process and development of their students in a positive way, and in our view is particularly applicable and important in an Art room.

Invitational Education is applicable particularly to the Arts as the aim of an Art class is to excite and stimulate curiosity and inquiry into artworks, as well as self-assessment of their own processes (of art making) and ideas. As Maaka (1999) states a major aim of a teacher is to "create classrooms that ex cite curiosity and inquiry, and invite self-assessment" (p. 6) and an Art room should not only be a place of art production and theory but a place of inspiration and resource for the young artist.

The aim of an Art room for students is to not only learn the theories of artists, artworks and the processes, but to experience art for themselves, learn and discover through practice and experimentation, freedom of choice and expression of opinions and ideas without ridicule. An Art room should be a place where young artists (students) can come and discover art for themselves, gaining their own independent and individual meaning from the information presented to them and their own experiences of life and art. "Independence, creativity, self-reliance and self-evaluation are all encouraged, and children take responsibility for their own learning and development" (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, p. 472). An Art class should be more than learning about different artists and artworks, it should be a place of personal discovery, where students can grow and develop their beliefs, opinions and ideas in a caring and supportive environment.

The Art Class and the Four Assumptions

The four assumptions of invitational theory give a consistent and structured stance from which teachers can then create and maintain an optimally inviting environment. The four assumptions are:

* Respect; People are able, valuable, and responsible and should be treated accordingly.

* Trust; Education should be a cooperative, collaborative activity where process is as important as product. …

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