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The Art of the Matter…

October 19, 2006

The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) know how to inspire! They have gathered some of the best work produced by Scotland’s young artists from the 2006 exams, and put it in a bus to create the inspirational Art Tour 2006. The word showcase just doesn’t do the work nearly enough justice.

It is a real privilege to see at first hand the paintings, jewellery, clothes and millenary that these talented youngsters have produced. Some of them have already developed a very clear style of their own and it’s a joy to see. I’ve posted my photos on flickr if you want to see more.

As I looked at the work, I was struck by a couple of thoughts. The first was how good it was to be able to see the pupil’s work. For too long, education has been little more than a private dialogue between the teacher and pupil. By exhibiting the work in this fashion, it suddenly becomes a conversation we can all join in with. It’s Education2.0!

I feel a bit like the Pope in the Monty Python sketch… I may not know much about art, but I do know what I like… yet suddenly, when I climbed on the bus, I was thrust into a situation where I got to chat with pupils about the work on display. They wanted to know what I thought, and in return, they were happy to venture their own opinions. I ended up learning a bit more about perspective and colour… and also about some of the pupils in the school.

The second thing that struck me was why, in this Web2.0 world, was this only happening for Art? Surely we have the technology to create a showcase (online) of the best writing produced by pupils, or the best Geography projects, or the best Science investigations, or the best…

The ArtBus is a brilliant idea. It allows pupils to see their peers work (and for a couple of our pupils, their OWN work), and it will hopefully be an inspiration to them. I also found it aspirational as I think that displaying and celebrating the pupils’ work and efforts could be, and should be applied to other subjects.

So, that’s my take on a marvelous afternoon. I think we should be looking to roll this idea out across the curriculum as soon as possible… what do you think, and how should we go about it?

 

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2006 9:52 am

    I couldn’t agree more about showcasing talent. I used to hoard folders of super writing from, especially but not exclusively, Higher English students – but the only people who ever saw them were other English students looking for inspiration/encouragement.

  2. October 19, 2006 9:52 am

    PS. Love the punning title – only noticed after I’d hit “submit”!

  3. October 19, 2006 11:06 am

    I’m a typical English teacher really, I can’t resist a good (or even a bad) pun!

  4. October 22, 2006 10:40 pm

    Yes – but why just this year’s best ? – learners could actually learn from seeing the best and worst and all that is in between.

    Showcases in other subjects would be start. Why not start the ball rolling. There is a lot of fantastic stuff going on in schools and colleges that is never shared beyond the institution or perhaps with the SQA.

  5. October 22, 2006 11:20 pm

    I agree that there is a case for seeing examples of the worst works (or should that be works of deferred success…thank goodness that was thrown out), however, I think that in this case it is good to celebrate excellence.
    As I said in my post, I found it a very aspirational experience, and talking to some of the pupils, they also found it an incentive to push themselves to do better. I think this is where there is real benefit from such a venture. If we’re honest, most schools can provide examples of poor quality work, but it is being able to show the pupils what the SQA deem exceptional that gives this exhibition added value.

    I would love to see a showcase of the best folio pieces and exam scripts for English, but I suspect that putting a lot of essays in a bus would not have the same impact. That’s where the web could be invaluable. I wonder if there is any practical reason why the SQA haven’t produced an online resource bank of the best work in the exam subjects? Could you do anything to get this idea going?

  6. Eva Forbes permalink
    October 26, 2006 7:19 pm

    Maybe its just as well these materials are not available in the light of propensity for plagiarism these days!!

  7. Gordon permalink
    October 27, 2006 3:00 pm

    Hi Neil,
    I saw these photos on the bbc website in jolly old Fort Worth. Can you do me a favour and send me a couple – before they get famous!

    Din lilla bror

  8. November 4, 2006 1:12 am

    A start has been made through – http://www.understandingstandards.org.uk/

    But this is not about inspiring just getting staff to understand the standards and only available to teaching staff. It takes a lot of clearance for SQA to publish student work online or in any form.

    Why does a local authority with agreement from their pupils showcase selection of folio work ?

  9. November 4, 2006 1:25 am

    I agree it takes a lot of clearance to get permission. One thing that the Artbus has shown me is a potential means of showcasing the pupils’ work. I have been sitting in on the East Lothian Extreme Learning sessions and at the last meeting, I suggested a showcase of the pupils’ work as a part of the end of the project.

    It’s an idea that just keeps coming back to me over and over again: that we should be making more of an effort to highlight all the good work that is being produced by the pupils. For me, the next trick is persuading my school to try something along this line… and then I might be in a position to try it at Authority level.

  10. February 5, 2007 3:32 pm

    Cool post.

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