Teaching is a combination of science (picture frame) and art (canvas). The curriculum provides the dimensions of the frame, within which both teaching and learning will, and must, occur.
The blank canvas represents infinite possibilities, and within the dimensions of the frame each student deserves the opportunity to explore his/her personal possibilities to the fullest. The teacher provides each student with his/her own brush, with which to refine the requisite content skills. Students certainly need guided practice, timely feedback, and targeted interventions as they develop these skills, but they also need routine opportunities for meaningful applications. Some students may never grasp all of the underlying content skills, but can still demonstrate sound understanding of the overall concept.
These applications gain traction on the classroom canvas, as students need, and deserve, the artistic freedom to pursue their passions and share their discoveries. All students have different schema and the colours they choose to share, and the shade of each of these colours, reflect their individual skills and experiences relevant to the specific task. The most powerful learning occurs when the contributions of different learners blend together on the canvas and create a new tertiary colour. This colour signifies the powerful synergy of collaborative, creative thought.
Within parameters imposed by curriculum expectations, individual and collective student findings need to be both honoured and validated. The entire student discovery process is irreparably compromised if the teacher concludes the lesson by using his/her proverbial roller to alter, override, or simply ignore student input. Enthusiasm for engaging in similar tasks in the future will certainly be significantly reduced if students feel their ideas have been given the brush off.