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«Introduction A thriving school–gallery relationship Before the visit The visit After the visit Key points from Case Study C Evidence of learning ...»

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Case Study C: We go to galleries

The Arts, Language and Languages, and Health and PE


A thriving school–gallery relationship

Before the visit

The visit

After the visit

Key points from Case Study C

Evidence of learning


The teacher is the glue that holds the experience together. (Carl, education officer)

The New Entrant/Year 1 class in this case study was in a school that has established long-term

relationships with a local art gallery and a local museum. Whole-school strategies have evolved, and school-wide planning aims to develop cumulative LEOTC experiences for all the students at the school. The experiences are embedded in class programmes, with the overall aim of helping students develop a life-long interest in going to galleries and museums: ‘We go to galleries’ is an integral part of the students’ lives within this school community.

This case study explores the involvement of the New Entrant/Year 1 class on a visit to the art gallery. For some, it was their first visit to the gallery with a class, although all had been before either when new entrants or with their families. As this was to be one of the many times that the students would visit the art gallery over the course of their primary schooling, an important aim was to introduce the students to appropriate gallery behaviour. It was also important that they enjoyed their time there, and that they would have the opportunity to establish a positive relationship with the gallery education officers.

The school was a co-educational, contributing integrated school with a roll of 160 and a decile rating of 6. Alice (the teacher) had a Bachelor of Education and one management unit. She had taught at the junior primary level for 15 years. There were 26 students in the class – 16 boys and Accessed from TKI / LEOTC / Case Studies http://www.tki.org.nz/r/eotc/leotc/casestudies/ New Zealand Ministry of Education 2006 – copying restricted to use by New Zealand education sector 10 girls. Three of the students were M ori, one Samoan, one Tongan, two Kiribati and 19 Pakeha New Zealanders. At the time of the research the age-range was from 5.0 to 6.4 years.

Alice described her class as mixed-ability.

Two education officers were interviewed – Carl and Rachel; Carl had been employed as an education officer for 10 years and had a Bachelor in Fine Arts, a Masters in Fine Arts and a Certificate in Adult Teaching. Rachel was relatively new to the gallery; she had been an education officer for two years and had a Diploma of Teaching and part of a Fine Arts/Visual Arts degree.

The relationship between the school and the gallery is outlined below.

A thriving school–gallery relationship A continuity of visiting The school has developed an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship with the local gallery and the local museum and all classes in the school usually visit each place once every year. The teachers and Alice knew the education officers because they had visited with classes for several

years. Alice commented:

It’s actually a school-wide thing and we actually all go, you know, we don’t say these 5-year-olds are too young, we don’t say the older ones are too old. We pick the activities. I mean the gallery generally gives you a guide as to what level it’s appropriate for, but we make our own decisions depending on classes and so it builds on top, you know. So every year they go again, they learn something more.

It’s not just left.

The continuity of visits enhanced the students’ learning, as their experiences were cumulative. In addition, visiting was not ad hoc, but was planned on a school-wide basis. This meant that teachers could integrate the out-of-school experiences into their classroom programmes. Positive

reasons for regularly visiting the gallery and museum were summarised by Alice:

Firstly they are facilities that we don’t have available to us at school. Also it is very, very well run, like they actually organise it extremely well. I think we go because the exhibits are excellent and he [education officer] brings the exhibits alive for the students. It’s not like just looking at an artwork.

They actually do things with it and the students create art from the art that is there. They have the classroom bit but there’s always a practical, hands-on thing that happens that’s fun. It’s always to the level of the students. They give some experiences that we can’t always do at school. They have resources that we don’t all have at school.

Accessed from TKI / LEOTC / Case Studies http://www.tki.org.nz/r/eotc/leotc/casestudies/ New Zealand Ministry of Education 2006 – copying restricted to use by New Zealand education sector Education officers as specialist teachers Alice saw the education officers as important contributors to the students’ learning, because they provided appropriate resources and experiences different from those teachers provided at school.

She also saw the education officers as having a special talent for animating and enlivening the art exhibits. They were efficient organisers, had excellent teaching abilities, and provided handson activities not available at school that fostered the practical involvement of the students.

Moreover, they matched the learning activities to the students’ learning levels. The art gallery as a place for learning also contributed to the students’ learning as it provided access to different facilities and resources not available at school, and the quality of the exhibits was always high.

All of these reasons contributed to building and maintaining the long-term close relationship between the school and the gallery.

The education officers agreed with Alice about the importance of being a teaching resource

different from those available at school and especially focused on current art exhibitions:

We are focused on our exhibitions. It’s a primary resource and a point of difference. We stay within the bounds of the exhibitions. (Rachel) Rachel confirmed how interacting with someone besides their teacher impacted on students’ learning, mentioning how some students changed their behaviour when visiting the gallery.

Teachers also had the chance to observe their students in a different context, and to learn new

things about them:

The teachers sometimes say to us they like their students to be taught by someone else. Also, the kids behave differently and they’ve found some, you know, like naughty boys or something and they come here and they are no longer the naughty boys and they can answer questions and they’re absolutely silent in school. It gives a chance for a teacher to observe and they actually discover things about their kids that they’ve never known. (Rachel) The gallery offers new experiences Alice thought students learnt new ways to behave in the gallery environment, and that visiting

the gallery might lead to the learning of different skills:

With attitudes it’s not only what they actually do there. But it’s actually the change of environment and the way we behave in a different environment. It’s about how different environments require different skills. Like in the art gallery, one of the most important rules is you do not touch the art.

Students like to touch, but if you ask my class; every single one of them knows that rule. And respect, that sort of attitude comes through. (Alice) Accessed from TKI / LEOTC / Case Studies http://www.tki.org.nz/r/eotc/leotc/casestudies/ New Zealand Ministry of Education 2006 – copying restricted to use by New Zealand education sector Alice also valued gallery/museum visits because they provided her students with new,

motivational experiences. She said:

The students are excited. They’re keen to go and even if they only come out with one thing and even if, for some of them, all it is, is a new experience, then it has been worthwhile.

The education officers believed that visits also contributed to learning because they created opportunities for students to build new understandings and to build on their existing ideas.

Visits could enhance classroom programmes, as they could act as a catalyst for generating ideas,

or could be used as culminating activities. Carl commented:

Visits sort of bring together everything. … We either use it towards the end of the unit or at the beginning, so that it introduces an idea or we can use it at the end and it just consolidates everything.

And it’s also like we do it one-way and then they see it in another way. And so they realise that this concept actually relates to a different context.

Compatible purposes Alice and the education officers also believed it to be important that teachers prepared for visits and understood the aims of the exhibits and associated learning outcomes, so that they could integrate the gallery experiences into classroom programmes. They all thought that compatible purposes enhanced LEOTC visits. Alice and Carl agreed that visits assisted students’ learning,

because they provided a catalyst for other activities and were a rich source of ideas:

I mean it might even roll over into the music, movement and drama that we do. It might roll into story writing for some of them. For some students who don’t get a lot of experiences it’s another thing that they can add for their oral language. …So I mean all in all it is worthwhile. (Alice) So we’re just the springboards and away the teachers go. It’s good, as they can do something afterwards. (Carl) Opportunities for the teacher Finally, visits provided Alice with opportunities to learn new skills and develop new

understandings which she could then use in the classroom:

I’m not artistic myself, but …I have learnt skills that I can now use… things I can use with another class at a different time. And even from my own learning point of view as to what is art, because four years ago I might have said something wasn’t art. Whereas now I know that … there are different ways and so I try and pass that on to my students and they’re not going to be my age when they learn it. They’re going to learn it now.

Visits to the gallery/museum were viewed as highly valuable because of the contributions they made to students’ learning, for their ability to enrich classroom programmes, and for their ability Accessed from TKI / LEOTC / Case Studies http://www.tki.org.nz/r/eotc/leotc/casestudies/ New Zealand Ministry of Education 2006 – copying restricted to use by New Zealand education sector to enrich students’ lives. The education officers’ skills and knowledge, and the relationships they fostered with the students were important for creating and contributing to worthwhile learning opportunities. Visits could also contribute to teachers learning new knowledge and skills.

Before the visit Teacher views and planning Goals and rationale This particular visit was related to an exhibition at the art gallery entitled ‘Gridlock: cities, spaces and structures’. Contemporary art explored architecture, design and town planning, and the ways in which the built environment affects our daily lives. It examined how people react to the rules, order and scale inherent in cities. Video projections, sculpture, painting and photography were included. The education officers provided a variety of school programmes related to this exhibition. Alice chose a programme that used dance and movement as a way to interpret the exhibition. She was clear about her reasons for taking the students on the visit. She

identified the curriculum area she was targeting:

It’s to do with the arts curriculum but it’s more than art and visual art. It is movement. Every week for the juniors we have music, drama and dance, and so this time they’re … actually going to relate the city, you know, the city art, to themselves, and movement and facial expressions and things like that.

She identified the overall learning outcomes – to develop students’ ideas about movement, and

to broaden their ideas about art:

We’ve taken them many times where they’ve come away with something on a piece of paper. This time I want them to see that art is not necessarily a picture on a wall. They will go around and they will see the art that’s being displayed and then instead of going into the classroom and producing something like they normally do …They’re actually going to come back with thoughts, not with a piece of paper.

She intimated that the new arts curriculum provided some obstacles for her, and that she saw the students’ involvement at the gallery as a way to provide them with different movement


It’s the newest curriculum at the moment, and the thing is it hasn’t always been that easy to actually use. So this is another way of consolidating it again, because as I said we’ve been doing dance/drama and movement every week in different ways and now we’re going to do it somewhere else.

Accessed from TKI / LEOTC / Case Studies http://www.tki.org.nz/r/eotc/leotc/casestudies/ New Zealand Ministry of Education 2006 – copying restricted to use by New Zealand education sector Teacher preparation Alice had prepared herself for the visit. She had read the material provided by the education officers. She undertook some of the movement activities in the pack with the students, and she helped them to prepare for the visit by discussing art gallery rules of behaviour with them. She had planned the sequence of lessons but indicated that for this NE/Y1 level the sequence was very simple, and that she was only focusing on a small number of learning outcomes. Her

overall learning outcomes were:

• there are rules of behaviour when visiting art galleries

–  –  –

• you can use yourself to interpret art.

Her lesson sequence was:

• Session 1: Art gallery rules. Movement activity • Session 2: Discussing the concept of art

–  –  –

• Session 4: Book making, discussing the concept of art.

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