Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? | Cindy Foley | TEDxColumbus

  • Published on Nov 26, 2014
  • What is the purpose and value of Art education in the 21st Century? Foley makes the case the Art’s critical value is to develop learners that think like Artists which means learners who are creative, curious, that seek questions, develop ideas, and play. For that to happen society will need to stop the pervasive, problematic and cliché messaging that implies that creativity is somehow defined as artistic skill. This shift in perception will give educators the courage to teach for creativity, by focusing on three critical habits that artist employ, 1. Comfort with Ambiguity, 2. Idea Generation, and 3. Transdisciplinary Research. This change can make way for Center’s for Creativity in our schools and museums where ideas are king and curiosity reigns.
    Cindy Meyers Foley is the Executive Assistant Director and Director of Learning and Experience at the Columbus Museum of Art. Foley worked to reimagine the CMA as a 21st century institution that is transformative, active, and participatory. An institution that impacts the health and growth of the community by cultivating, celebrating and championing creativity. Foley envisioned and led the charge to open the 18,000 sq. ft. Center for Creativity in 2011. In 2013, the museum received the National Medal for Museums in recognition of this work. Foley guest edited and wrote chapters for Intentionality and the Twenty-First-Century Museum, for the summer 2014 Journal of Museum Education.
    In 2012, Foley received the Greater Columbus Arts Council Community Arts Partnership award for Arts Educator. She was a keynote speaker for the OAEA (Ohio Art Education Association) 2012 Conference. She is on the Faculty of Harvard University’s Future of Learning Summer Institute.
    Foley is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Museum, she was with the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.
    In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Comments • 413

  • Lisa Chirio
    Lisa Chirio 7 days ago

    Art ed looks more like "color by numbers" in most settings - follow the rules, make it look real, replicate...etc.
    So sad.
    Creativity on the other hand allows for imagination, whimsy, lateral thinking, interpretations, unique versions, breaking the rules and THAT'S what my classes are all about.
    Fortunately for my students, I'm self taught and a rebel.

  • Hondo Trailside
    Hondo Trailside 7 days ago

    Great talk. I still bristled at moments where she talked about "learners". Perhaps unintentionally she seemed to be getting back to the straight jacket that schools impose. You can keep using different words, but people are not products, and at times I still saw the industrial product model creeping back into her talk.

    There is also a central question she did not answer. Everyone can't be Monet. You can take the point of view that he was just another disposable old W guy. Or more realistically that not everyone is artistic, or creative, and that if they were, there would be no capacity to produce and employ their output. RU-clip is a little like that, in that it is now easier than ever to create and produce and distribute videos, but most people won't do it, and a few people end up with the millions of viewers, while most people are lost.

  • Pam Horne
    Pam Horne 10 days ago

    It’s because education is based on box ticking. Even at degree level in art. It saves time and provides statistics on outcome. I once had to judge a children’s Harry Potter art competition. The most beautiful pictures were produced by the age 5-8 group. By age 16 it had all been knocked out of them.

  • BK ART Gallery
    BK ART Gallery 27 days ago

    Great talk

  • antitsa
    antitsa Month ago

    Creativity is really thinking outside the box. Politically and socially America does not want people who think outside the box, especially as illustrated by changes in the country during the past several years. Therein lies the dilemma. Those who think outside the box in America are perceived as a threat. We applaud the financially successful results of their experimentation but are fully prepared to shun them if the results are not profitable. America is a victim of its narrow creativity. I applaud this Tedx in principle but recognize that in practice America is not fertile ground or open for creativity. We just think we are.

  • Catherine Levison
    Catherine Levison Month ago

    Anyone heard of Educationalist Charlotte Mason? English, revolutionary, champion of “idea” based learning, deceased since 1923? This capsulized her main tenet without ever using her name. I’ve studied, taught, and written about Mason for 23 years and her name deserves to be mentioned here because she would never want to “kill the ideas” and lived for math, art, and science to be in service to ideas. I loved the trans-disciplinary research concept because that describes my mind, my life, my entire drive. Please forgive that as it’s not intended as a boast. Thank you!

  • le zucc
    le zucc Month ago

    that horse drawing was pretty good.

  • Cheskabas
    Cheskabas Month ago


  • William Brown
    William Brown Month ago

    Is it possible to get a news letter on your latest research ? Willie the Idea Navigator

  • Pia Rebel
    Pia Rebel 2 months ago

    number 7 looks like Patrick's rock :D:D but rock had 4 letters so I knew it must be wrong...

  • random269
    random269 2 months ago

    Why is learning art history synonyms with being creative?
    Her voice is fine, just don't shout.

  • BluuBuurry
    BluuBuurry 2 months ago

    I read a comment that she had the flu and now I can hear it in her voice and hearing her voice makes my throat feel sore lol like that fuzzy sore feeling like your throat is closing up omg

  • Lydia Langford Joiner
    Lydia Langford Joiner 2 months ago

    Nice to talk to you! LJ

  • Actual DatBoi
    Actual DatBoi 2 months ago +2

    this presentation was all over the place
    i dont know whether my brain isn't big enough or something but this felt so unorganized

  • World of David Wood
    World of David Wood 2 months ago

    A limited illadvised point of view. Ideas are the things that separates one artist from another, one art (or otherwise) movement from another, but this speaker has completely disrespected craft within this discussion, not to mention the business of sustaining oneself as an artist. There is no recognition of the dedicated time it takes to build a creative mind, this non-artist, she's just married to one, has a very one dimensional view on how to think as a artist. You can't grade ideas, they are based on context, look at storytelling in animation, games and movies. More artists in schools is the answer.

  • noyan coşkuner
    noyan coşkuner 3 months ago +1

    I feel you , truly .. and thank you for this beautiful and meaningful talk.

  • the ART of LaPierre
    the ART of LaPierre 3 months ago

    wanna-bees.... can NEVER BE!!! they don't qualify. they NEVER get anything done.

    • the ART of LaPierre
      the ART of LaPierre 3 months ago

      Artist today don't even have the basic skills of DRAWING...sorry,stay on your computers and fry your brains

  • Paul Griffiths
    Paul Griffiths 3 months ago

    Yes 👏

  • Frukwon 420
    Frukwon 420 3 months ago

    watched for 5 seconds with the whole mud thing, screw this video..

    • Decopainterandtea
      Decopainterandtea 3 months ago

      Lol I thought it was a rock but then saw it had only three spaces for the answer under it.

  • דרור יעקב שטרשון

    That was so inspiring!! I can wait to bring these ideas into my classoom!!

  • JoeD60
    JoeD60 3 months ago

    Curiosity rights!

  • RavenStealstheNight
    RavenStealstheNight 3 months ago +1

    Sadly, education of any kind in today's society is reduced to testing and getting good scores. Creativity has been pushed out of importance. Play time, unstructured learning, and creativity are seen as impediments as to learning. When society *only* demands and expects perfection and regurgitation of fact, humanity will suffer. My own father dissed my art and artistic ability... he stated that art is irrelevant to human society. I'd always tell him that humans are creative beings and without creativity we would not have civilization. We are not computers. I've worked with children that have great difficulty with being spontaneous and creative. It's sad. It's an ability that should come naturally. We need more transdisciplinarian research.

  • Rogue Cheney
    Rogue Cheney 3 months ago +1

    For all the petty people, the sound is coming from her earrings, not her mouth 🙄

  • Анна Кукава
    Анна Кукава 3 months ago +1

    13:10 that woman in the bottom rigt corner better be sleep-deprived, because I can't imagine any logical reasons to not be engaged in this lecture and to sigh like this.

  • Donald Parish
    Donald Parish 3 months ago

    They have a standardized test for creativity?

  • Abdullah Nasher
    Abdullah Nasher 3 months ago +1

    The hardest thing to do as an artist is deferentially seeing with a new fresh eyes the same work you have just finished.
    Abdullah Nasher
    3d artist & Freethinker

  • R
    R 4 months ago +1

    I think a practical solution to her stated problem would be to start teaching more design or “strategy” classes in school. Designing for a specific class or client forces you to be creative in a strategic way of thinking in order to obtain a goal.
    I think that what she is a proponent for is for encouraging expression and exploration. I think these can be tied to creativity but they’d tend to be less productive. I would be really interested in knowing how she thinks an art classroom should be led practically.
    And as others have said, there’s nothing wrong with teaching skills in art class. Some forms of art, especially in the renaissance were all about creating beautiful works of art that required amazing skill-and not much of a need for the ability to embrace ambiguity. In recent years, art has moved to more of expression, rather than creating beautiful things though, so she’s most likely more so embracing the new trends in art.
    Regardless, this talk is very good to bring up challenges and to get you thinking and talking about what art classes should look like.

  • Miguel Draws
    Miguel Draws 4 months ago +1

    As an artist i can say that 5:10 is dead on accurate. So annoyed to hear that a lot...

  • Zaid Almymoni
    Zaid Almymoni 4 months ago

    I'm an artist (painter)need english native to help me to describe my artworks.

  • Kishan Jaiswal
    Kishan Jaiswal 4 months ago

    Don't want to offend anyone, I'm just giving me honest opinion - I found no creativity in this video on creative thinking... actually I got confused as I kept watching as to what I am watching this for...

  • Ingrid Coke
    Ingrid Coke 4 months ago +1

    Thank you Cindy. Well said.

  • London Art Nanny
    London Art Nanny 4 months ago +6

    Great talk... Nurturing creativity and innovative thinking is so important! I love how Cindy articulated it. It builds individuality and as she says, new ideas... I teach art in London, and luckily I do it privately and have the freedom to do so without limiting the creative process of the little artists, but encouraging them to bring out their own ideas. Thank you for this talk, Cindy, it’s inspiring. 👏🏽♥️

  • mark patrick
    mark patrick 4 months ago

    I don’t understand this. It’s like she never got to the point.

  • cyFFrowy
    cyFFrowy 5 months ago

    I love her mouth sounds

  • Ida B
    Ida B 5 months ago

    2 minutes into the talk, i came to the point of muting the video and turning on the subtitles.I truly don’t want to be rude but mouth sounds are truly hard for some people to tolerate. The sound make me so nervous and uncomfortable to the point i totally lost my concentration on what she was saying and all i could only hear was the mouth noise.

  • Анна Кукава
    Анна Кукава 5 months ago +1

    Dunno, the salivation sound was like ASMR to me.

  • the Night light show
    the Night light show 5 months ago +1

    this lovely women really inspire us here , thanks a lot

  • pedro marques
    pedro marques 5 months ago +1

    Its ridiculous the idea of teaching art. You cannot teach art you may teach skills but art is something that you simply cant teach. I think its important to understand the art history but the idea of teach you to be an artist its ridiculous. Thats why there is many painters but only a few artists! To become an artist you must create something new and unique in the artworld but how do you teach someone to create something that doesnt exist yet? It only exists in your conscious the ideas but your teacher tell you to do exactly the opposite and follow specific materials for each art project. You cannot teach art because everyone thinks differently

  • Laia Maria
    Laia Maria 6 months ago +1

    I’m lucky enough to be in a University where they teach us how to think like artists and develop our ideas, embracing ambiguity and create meaningful stuff, rather than copying what others have done. But we do have art history and philosophy classes, to help us understand what others created before us and its perception in its contemporary society.

  • Melkor Morgoth
    Melkor Morgoth 7 months ago

    This lady is off of her knocker, she rambles on and on about creativity and ideas, but doesnt specifiy how to do it. All the great artists in history learned the basics of art, they spent years learning before they made their masterpieces and that includes Monet. Learning the basics allows people to be more creative because it allows them to get their ideaa across and do what they want.

  • Koala
    Koala 7 months ago

    How did she not understand the master builder was a metaphor for God...

  • Daniel Soares
    Daniel Soares 7 months ago +1

    Foundational skills in art are still important and should be learned before you get old. Even Picasso realised that

  • Jim Minet
    Jim Minet 7 months ago +1

    Yes, yes, we all must learn how to think creatively, but without knowing or focusing on the fundamentals first, it's like trying to write a novel without first learning the alphabet. Teach art students how to make a horse look like a horse before you start to abstract it. I've seen too many instructors in universities start with the later and forgo the former. Please, we should all be having lectures on the value of representational art as a precursor to abstraction otherwise we will all be going to art galleries and seeing '12 Million Dollar Stuffed Sharks' in formaldehyde tanks and we will be told it is art, when in fact it is marketing and branding. That is another conversation.

  • hmuu zaw
    hmuu zaw 7 months ago


  • Joe Pecoraro
    Joe Pecoraro 7 months ago


  • Natalie Stocks
    Natalie Stocks 8 months ago +2

    Awesome ! As an art educator, and creativity advocate, your message is EXACTLY what I've been promoting for the last 20 years. Thank you!

  • miss april MacKay
    miss april MacKay 8 months ago

    Good talk, but basically she is saying: To educate kids about Art Assignments: Have them make "Master Copies," allow them to be Curious, and Play (aka UnSchool Art, because it is human nature)

  • Rebecca St John
    Rebecca St John 8 months ago

    I can't watch purely because of the dry mouth sounds. Which sucks because it's so interesting.

  • Eli Gho
    Eli Gho 8 months ago +1

    Very good. I would hope that we might add is 'testing' those creative developments. Not a test for the art student but a test against the substance of the 'creative.'

  • Gaz's Gums
    Gaz's Gums 8 months ago +1

    Music to my ears. Beautifully presented ideas. Got me thinking all kinds of cool stuff. 😁😁😁

  • Austin Marshall
    Austin Marshall 8 months ago

    They should really give the speakers a glass of water before they go up.

  • Kraßton bel Lässarzu
    Kraßton bel Lässarzu 8 months ago


  • Lisa
    Lisa 8 months ago

    I think she has some great points and ideas but it sounds like she has a retainer (maybe Invisalign retainers) in her mouth and I felt her annunciation was distracting me from what she was actually saying at times. Maybe I am nuts, but if I am correct, I would encourage her to take out her retainers when giving speeches/talks in the future.
    Smart person.

  • abinaya ezhilarasan
    abinaya ezhilarasan 9 months ago

    You really need to emphasize only few phrases.. Doing it everywhere sounds tacky

  • Nickie Vigilante
    Nickie Vigilante 9 months ago

    H 2 0

  • Willfray
    Willfray 9 months ago

    be an artist is not only be creative. I mean you need to draw things, not only "mud" when we speak about painting. Most of the artists are creative, but not every creative human is an artist.

  • Dr. Kittay
    Dr. Kittay 9 months ago +1

    Now THIS is what I call an art speech. :)

  • リンカMaha
    リンカMaha 10 months ago

    أتمنى احد يترجم للعربي.

  • Alex S.
    Alex S. 10 months ago +2

    I use to get downgraded for adding something to a drawing or doing something extra using what I just learned. The most memorable experience was after I just learned to draw a city block using vanishing points for perspective. I picked it up fairly fast so I started making some different shape windows on my buildings following all the rules for drawing windows and made sure that perspectives where correct. She dropped me to a D because I refused to change them back. She told me I couldn’t do that because that was too advanced for what she was teaching. I was always like wtf why are you telling me to hold myself back. Art is the expression of oneself

  • Neo 0101
    Neo 0101 10 months ago

    First step in teaching art...stop “teaching” art. Stop trying to quantify and theorize and hypothesize what you think it is and should be. Three letters of the alphabet have never been so misunderstood.

  • Steve Wolfe
    Steve Wolfe 10 months ago

    I think the stick figure was more creative than the horse.. It clearly was funny, and a little different. Not as well drawn, but quite creative.

  • alys Freeman
    alys Freeman 10 months ago +1

    I had lecturers kill my ideas, they were bad at thinking here in the UK but in Rotterdam was the complete opposite....but as an independent artist I am a voracious researcher...everything interests me and I have to read it, study it, think it, follow where it takes me....and the ideas happen...

    OSKARSY11 10 months ago

    She is not screechy, grating or irritating. Oh wait. No actually, she is!

  • J boogieee3
    J boogieee3 10 months ago

    Annoying fuckin voice

  • Ivan Arion
    Ivan Arion 11 months ago +2

    Very important topic! Thank you!

  • dilraj kaur
    dilraj kaur 11 months ago

    Well said , art is to feel free , motivate ,dream with reality , experience and experiment. I love your child imagination ,if she said art it means she had seen some piece of art like that

  • Sandra Angles
    Sandra Angles 11 months ago

    i disagree.. she doesn´t know about the reality of anothers professionals.. every scientist researchs a lot about the topic they have in hand, and we look every kind of theme.. I think it is not the art education.. it a thing of being smart and intelligent .Nothing More!!!

  • Massimo Gigante
    Massimo Gigante 11 months ago

    another dry mouth ear licker

    WEE WILLY Year ago

    All and Most, are two big words with rather grand claims, that come together to mean failure
    Because first comes the counting, then comes the selling. A lesson learned once upon a time, allegedly.
    A traveling salesman's nightmare? Or a petty traders commercial crimes complex. In the form of a strange bazar at the center of a bizarre island prison, stumbled into in a delirium
    For drivers of hard bargains? Selling hopes, dreams, dead or alive, fresh or dried, escape plans, broken promises, magic fetishes, miscellany, and all things a-sundry
    All for sale? Only because logic and circular reasoning will not be denied. And paradoxical thinking is the fastest way to delay the inevitable, that comes with knowing the self
    What goes around, comes around.
    In a fully realized knowledge continent floating on itself. Castaways play hide and seek with what they think they ought not to know.
    Self contained and out of reach from all other states, like-masses, like like-minds, clump together and become inseparable. Isolated in their oneness
    The denied and the deniers, having planted a flag in this common ground they now share, claim this land as their own, now and forever more, till death do us part
    Only nooks and crannies now left to re-discover, offering temporary refuge from times tempest, and the persistence of this kind of knowing,
    That seeps into soil and water through buried flesh, or is it suppressed memories? Circumnavigating and negotiating the tricky back passages and slip roads of the self
    Before awareness swings back round and reconnects with everything else that ever was. Drivers, on an island of stuff, floating in a sea of the unrealized.
    Mind in motion, traveling on roads of its own makings. Through time and across space. A fleshy motorist driving across an island atol made of matter enmeshed with delusion

  • Lisa Miller
    Lisa Miller Year ago

    When people get nervous, as in when they have to speak publicly, their mouths get very dry. How would you do if you were up there?

  • Matangaro Matangaro

    Picasso visited one of caves with ancient stone aged art on the walls - when he exited the cave he famously exclaimed "we have learned nothing".
    This TED talk hits the potential answers to the issues of creativity facing global western acculturused countries employing standardised models of measured progression.

  • Wise_king_solomon
    Wise_king_solomon Year ago +1

    I think teaching art is an oxymoron! It is like giving me a direction on what should i feel about everything!

  • Il Laboratorio Artistico


  • Socrate
    Socrate Year ago

    Hard to listen to because Foley speaks in such a high,, screechy voice with very staccato phrasing, which becomes irritating finally. She needs to learn to lower her register and speak more melodically.

  • Fritz Wunderlich
    Fritz Wunderlich Year ago

    Not EVERYTHING is art, thus it’s weird and irresponsible to tell anyone (especially kids) that they are smart ... because some of them aren’t. Encouraging kids to become decent human beings is way more important than telling them that they could do whatever you they want, because in reality it’s NOT true, a few examples will not regulate things in general.

  • Janet smith
    Janet smith Year ago

    100% agree

  • Jack Stevens
    Jack Stevens Year ago

    Marry me

  • Dea Lenihan
    Dea Lenihan Year ago +5

    I'm crying. This is the best thing. Don't kill the ideas and don't kill the light in the eyes of our children. xo

  • Margarita Amrita
    Margarita Amrita Year ago +1

    She is so right. There are modalities that do not require formal artistic education. In fact, it may be blocking some very talented artists from creating in their own style because they are so scared to be bullied by those professors who know how one should draw or paint. Kandinsky once said that art must have psychological meaning, the emotional influence on people. Who cares if objects are perfectly painted or drawn if they don't touch our hearts? They are just beautiful reflections, nothing else. Yet simple geometrical figures such as lines, circles, and triangles creatively put together may even make you cry - that is what we do with our art of Neurographica that I am teaching. I see people being deeply emotionally involved in their drawing, going thru a deep transformation, talking to their subconscious and changing their thinking patterns and root believes that limit their lives and their creative process

  • jana Ross
    jana Ross Year ago


  • Javier Mora
    Javier Mora Year ago +3

    Please, give them all TED talk speakers some water!

  • Mandy Lender
    Mandy Lender Year ago

    A poor public speaker. Repeats bridge words (so, so,... Um...) The main message is foggy.

  • javeria ali
    javeria ali Year ago


  • Zahed Bin Rahim
    Zahed Bin Rahim Year ago


  • Skellelleton
    Skellelleton Year ago

    Kids that can clean a paintbrush and can sketch out an idea before using globs of paint can have any supplies available in my class. I would say the constraints of the material and the patience to explore them is where real creativity and learning happens.

  • chumleyok
    chumleyok Year ago


  • Goldenmath
    Goldenmath Year ago

    Great talk, but we all get confused at the reasoning behind the goal, we need to create ideas that teach interaction and cohesion, not separative speculative ideas that have a materialistic bent, we cannot create beautiful children and then stifle them, it will be our ability to think together, not apart that saves our race

  • VeronicasTouch
    VeronicasTouch Year ago

    I saw a dido, not mud.

  • Kellie Chasse
    Kellie Chasse Year ago +2

    So fabulous thank you!!! I am an online instructor and my favorite four letter word is PLAY!

  • Piet Smegma
    Piet Smegma Year ago

    You can't become an artist. You are born like that. They are learning rubbish nowaday's. No knowledge of materials, no knowledge of painting technics, they call everything art..... digital 'art' 'performance art' etc... .... We have billions of 'artist' without work. Bach: autodidact. Rembrandt: autodidact... Caravaggio: autodidact. Real artist don't need education... only a personal teacher for the technique. nothing more, nothing less.

    • WastingtimeInc
      WastingtimeInc Year ago

      A great artist is no more "born" that way as a great scientist is "born" that way. By and large, these people work hard at it and become good at it only after investing the time wisely.

  • Hello Yihaa
    Hello Yihaa Year ago +1

    I think a lot of you are missing the point, she trying to explain that art should not be restricted in how you do it let the kids be creative. I do believe that it's important to know the history and all different skills medium there are in knowing how to do art knowledge is important, but as an artist, how you create your art comes from within you it's a self expression there is no one way of doing art and basically what she's explaining is to allow students to express themselves be creative think outside the box don't just critique. There needs to be a balance of inspiring and giving students the knowledge and skills and then allowing them to interpret and create.

  • Learn and Fun
    Learn and Fun Year ago

    Wonderful video

  • Leanne Bandte
    Leanne Bandte Year ago +1

    It’s all subjects, the entire education system, the entire system end of story... that’s designed to brainwash into despair and ill-health. Business is business. 😒

  • ktgage
    ktgage Year ago +7

    dunno thought mud was brown. thought it was a rock tbh

  • Sherlock BONES
    Sherlock BONES Year ago

    Misophonia. Can't take it.

  • artettina
    artettina Year ago +5

    Good observation on her part, that some may have forgot this or they did not know why it is so important. There are artist who can do photo realism because of formal training but have forgotten the need for risk and creativity (ideas), so is it really art? I think that has always been an issue in art that people have talked about. Tools (all tools mental and physical) and the creative idea process should never be parted.

  • Donna Worthy
    Donna Worthy Year ago

    I think it is important for students to develop questions about their reading..

  • woostep
    woostep Year ago

    Product placement YUCK!

  • Amravín de Schur

    Art schools see students as a means for some stagnant artists to make a living. The students are not being given the most fundamental skills needed in the artistic profession, because the teachers do not have those skills.

  • Sepano Debulan
    Sepano Debulan Year ago

    lovely...great speech..give me understand how bad we need the real arts in life.thank you