This is an experiment to see how easy it is to use Adobe Spark Pages to share ideas and information quickly and easily. The answer is very easy. The pages below took about an hour to create. However, the content drawings (and thinking) had already been done for another project (with teachers in Kazakhstan). So it was just the text to be written and the pictures to be put in place. The whole thing is done within very well defined and designed templates. This is really helpful because the design choices are limited so I didn’t spend hours deciding on formatting and just focussed on content.
This idea came from discussions with colleagues (in the ESAG) about ways that the new generation of Facebook using teachers may use new media to support sharing within a new understanding of how teacher communities work together.
Wing to Heaven I do like this educational blog. It’s the sound of sacred cows falling over that appeals. It forces you to think whether it is worth helping them up again, or is it better to find some new cows to deify.
‘This fantastic new film explains why studying art and design and/or design & technology have value – value both in terms of learning and in terms of career choices.
The film will be helpful to students, parents and carers, careers advisors and senior leadership teams. The CreativeJourneys website also has links to mini films of designers, architects, engineers and other creative professionals who explain how their careers started.’
The government is set to announce the academization of every school. This means the national curriculum, certainly for all but English and Maths, is no longer compulsory. It also means, perhaps more significantly for teachers, that national conditions of service and pay bargaining is also a thing of the past. Yesterday I was at a meeting of the ‘Expert Subject Advisory Group for Art’ . This includes representatives from organisations such as the NSEAD, the Arts Council, and gallery educators as well as teachers, lecturers and hangers on like me. We discussed the changing nature of advocacy, and the way that, from now on, change would be generated at school, or academy chain, level. Politicians have, in effect, left the room, followed by local authorities.
The structural changes in secondary education are already underway, but the structural changes in primary education have yet to be seen. The world will not come to an end and new generations of subject champions will come to populate new networks. But in the short term it is hard to see how subject support and leadership can be provided for primary schools. In our meeting we discussed developing guidance for primary subject leaders in developing a programme of study, and I think we will produce this.
But we also noted that the publication ‘Art Express’ already provides a complete scheme of work. (See details of this elsewhere on this website.) I noted, with regret, that it was expensive and had not been taken up widely and it was no longer actively promoted by the publisher – so probably not a solution. However, this morning (and this is the belated point of this post) I wondered whether it was still available – perhaps on Abebooks, and a quick search revealed that it was readily available online and at considerably reduced prices. The publisher is still selling individual year group books at £31.49 each whereas on Abebooks they are available for as little as £4.60 – brilliant. (note I was on the editorial board of this publication so have a vested interest)
If you have not heard of it Abebooks is the equivalent of Amazon in secondhand and remaindered books. It seems to have just about everything I can remember reading on their lists at remarkably low prices. Remember the book you had as a child that you would now like to read to your grand daughter – try Abebooks.
There is an intriguing twist in this simple tale. It comes from the book ‘Art and Fear’, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. At the beginning of term a ceramics teacher divided the class into two groups. He told the first group that they would be graded on the quantity of work that they produced – the amount of clay used. He explained that at the end of term they should bring to the assessment all the work they had produced and that it would be weighed. Students would get an ‘A’ for 50lbs of work, a ‘B’ for 40lbs and so forth.
The second group was told that they would be graded on the quality of their work and that at the end of term they should present for assessment just one pot of the highest quality they could achieve.
Apparently the results were very clear. the highest quality work, that which was most orginal, effective and creative was all produced by the first group.
Bayles and Orland explained that: “It seems that while the ‘quantity’ group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the ‘quality’ group had sat theorising about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”
I like the story because, although we know about the value of creative play, of taking risks and failing, much of our actual pedagogy seems to reflect the experience of the second group of students. We tend to follow a risk averse process of developing and refining an idea in pursuit of a single fully resolved outcome. It is a very different process to that of the first group who just make stuff – lots of it.
Daisy Christodoulou’s blog is always interesting, and often infuriating – well she is young, right wing, a teacher and popular educational expert. But she goes for the jugular, attacks our treasured myths and bases her arguments on research not dogma.
The latest post on her blog ‘The Wing to Heaven’ argues that the research tends to suggest that teacher assessment is inherently less fair and accurate than we fondly imagine and certainly less so than exams. Basically she argues that research indicates that teacher assessment is subject to unconscious but persistant prejudice against children already disadvantaged. Read the blog here Blog Post.
So far so interesting, and I guess and I would recommend ‘The wing to heaven‘, just because its challenging. But it does occur to me that it may add something to the debate about the gender gap in our subject. Perhaps teacher assessment is less fair and accurate, and more prone to inherent prejudice in favour of girls’ approach to the subject than we would like to believe. So does this mean we should be more open minded about exam reform?
Tim Oates talks with quiet authority about how the new national curriculum came to be and how ideas about assessment have changed. He explains how the honourable intentions of the TGAT report (Professor Black) became corrupted. However, it is clear that when he talks of assessment it is about assessment in the core subjects. Well he would wouldn’t he that’s the important bit. But it isn’t good enough to simply assume that there is only one approach which is so appropriate for English, maths and science that it must also be appropriate for all subjects. This does harm to the effectiveness of other subjects in achieving the aims and aspirations set out for them. This is a waste of educational potential which we cannot afford.
The recently published report of the Commission on Assessment Without Levels is interesting and probably important for our subject. Some of it consists of statements of the blindingly obvious. But in view of the fact that many schools are blindly holding on to crass and abviously silly assessment practices it is perhaps depressingly necessary to repeat simple common sense information about effective assessment. One common excuse for senior managers desparate reliance on systems which, even they usually admit in private, are facile, is OFSTED. So it is helpful to hear OFSTED trying to set the record strait – below.
Art teachers, well all subject teachers atually, should read the commissions report it will help them as they challenge senior managers to develop a coherent and helpful assessment policy – rather than a spreadsheet for recording, often meaningless, numbers.