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«Introduction Before the visit The visit After the visit Key points from Case Study D Evidence of learning Introduction It was very worthwhile for us. ...»

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Case Study D: Sowing a seed for the future

The arts, language and languages, and health and physical education


Before the visit

The visit

After the visit

Key points from Case Study D

Evidence of learning


It was very worthwhile for us. It made the children think outside the norm. (Claire, teacher)

The exhibition this group were going to view shows the work of a New Zealand artist, who

throughout his career has focused on the self-portrait genre. It was a multimedia exhibition and included models, sculptures, photographs, videos and audio-taped displays. The visit was part of the concluding phase of a planned whole-school focus on the arts and education outside the classroom.

The children in this class were Years 2 and 3 and they attended a Catholic, integrated, full primary school which had a roll of 231 students. The school had a decile rating of 9, and was situated in a region adjoining a major New Zealand city. The ethnic composition was 80 percent New Zealand Pakeha, 10 percent M ori and 5 percent Samoan and other ethnic groups. The gender split was close to 50/50 boys and girls. The class participating in the case study did not reflect this split since of 25 students, 16 students were boys and only nine girls. The teacher described the class as a mixed ability group.

The education officer at the art gallery, Deidre, had a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree specialising in art theory, and a Diploma of Teaching. Her previous teaching experience was as a secondary school art teacher, working in both the private and state systems. She had been employed as education officer at the gallery for one year. She loved the work as it was varied and challenging, and included developing resources, report writing, liaising with teachers and working with students. Her role in this case study was to give guidance to Claire and her 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 students as they prepared for their visit to the gallery, and then to act as tour guide and teacher during the course of their visit.

Before the visit Teacher views and planning Goals and rationale This visit was part of a week of visits in which the whole school was involved, and which linked with the school focus on visual art. Claire realised that the exhibition could be regarded as being ‘above the heads’ of her students but the experiences previously offered to the school by the gallery had been very successful. With the current exhibition, students were able to take part in a guided tour of the exhibition with the education officer, and also to attend a practical workshop, in which themes from the exhibition were to be reinforced. Claire felt that the novelty of the outing would be beneficial for her students, along with the opportunity to work with an art specialist, complete an art activity and to experience other activities which would not be offered at school. She felt that it was a chance to broaden the students’ horizons, and to experience something quite new. She also believed that it was an economical use of her own time, to hand over an area of teaching in which she personally had an interest, but no technical expertise.

Teacher preparation Claire chaired the school art committee, and together with a small team of teachers she was responsible for organising the whole school plan for visual arts during Term Two. The learning

outcomes she identified were that the students would:

1. through their participation in drawing, painting and craft activities develop practical knowledge, by using the appropriate processes and techniques, and exploring and using the relevant elements and principles

2. develop ideas individually and collectively, by drawing on a variety of sources of motivation

3. identify the context in which objects and images are made, viewed and valued.

These goals were to be achieved by a combination of practical activities both in school and outof-school; the use of local artists, and cross curriculum tasks, for example, visual and written language. At the end of these activities there would be an art display involving the whole 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 In order to organise the gallery visit described in this case study, Claire made contact with personnel at the art gallery by phone. This first contact with the education officer resulted in an invitation to attend a teacher preview workshop for the new exhibition. Caught during a very busy phase at school, Claire at first declined the offer but the education officer persuaded her to attend. Claire later commented that the workshop was invaluable. The key themes of the exhibition revolved around the genre of self-portraiture and the concepts of self-image and the alter ego which were central to the artist’s work. Claire included these concepts in her preparation, as they were complex ideas for 7- and 8-year-olds to understand and she realised that the students would require a good level of familiarity if they were to engage fully with the experience. Before the visit the children drew simple self-portraits, using crayon and dye. They discussed how they viewed themselves, their likes and dislikes, and spent time familiarising themselves with the artist featured at the exhibition. In addition to the planned student outcomes, Claire also anticipated that the experience of the site visit would result in a thirst for knowledge about art and artists, and together with the desire to return to the gallery with friends and family.

Teacher roles Claire saw her role primarily as preparing the students for the visit and helping to manage them during the time they were at the site. She had explained to the children that they were going to act as art critics during their visit; she hoped that this would help focus them on the art, and at the same time keep an open mind about what they saw. She was not intending to follow-up the visit specifically, as she viewed it as the ‘grande finale’ of a term’s work.

We’ve already done diary writing. This is the end of our focus of the art – almost like the end result – Grande finale – this is what we had committed the school to – some kind of workshop and a trip. Just finishing their art work and debriefing through diary writing.

Student views Views of museums The students interviewed had all been on school excursions; usually these were organised as a treat at the end of term, or for recreational purposes. None of the students had been to the art

gallery. Hine talked about her experiences last year:

(I went on) a fun trip in August last year. We had to find things that started with letters of the alphabet. (It was) a fun trip – kind of like what we are going to do tomorrow but only with a few pictures and all these statues and stuff – Te papa’s museum. I also went there in the holidays.

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 One student who had visited the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch prior to moving to this school spoke enthusiastically about what she had learnt.

I learnt lots of things from these people. (They) showed us around the place. I liked the penguins and the leopard seal. It eats its own babies. (I learnt about) penguins, what kind of animals are there, what it’s like in summer. There’s a café we went to too.

Preparation The responses from the students about their preparation for the visit to the art gallery were varied - four intriguing recollections.

–  –  –

[We] did some art, learnt about some art people and had a talk about it – what pictures we are going to see, people that have drawn about themselves and six other people.

[We] done lots of art work and stuff, made snakes and ladders board, we made photo frames with macaroni on them and then big pictures of farm animals.

I really haven’t done anything. Mrs. Vine has told us how to get ready – what you have to go in your school uniforms, and have our hairs really good. Don’t go running around on the bus and keep our bags on the seat.

The children’s expectations of what they were going to experience the next day were also varied, and a little confused. As a group, however, they touched on all the features of the exhibit

that had been discussed in the classroom:

A few picture of (Exhibition Artist) and a few things humorous – my teacher told me about this trick – this fake animal’s on the floor.

[I think I will see] a few art things and the workshops that people are going to. [I] don’t think I’ll get a chance to do any art work but I would really like to.

I don’t know – boxes with stones and things on them. I don’t know.

Pictures of animals and people drawing pictures of themselves, some people that draw like Arkeli Pio – she came to school here – crazy characters.

One student also summed up what he expected they would do at the Art Gallery:

I think we will have a look around and then have morning tea outside and then we might go back and have a really good look at it (the exhibit) and then we might go out to have some fresh air and then go to the museum.

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 Help with learning The students had a multitude of ideas about what they expected to learn while they were at the gallery, and why going to an art gallery might make a difference to their learning. They all mentioned that they would learn about different kinds of art, and most of them referred to the

exhibition artist, and the prospect of learning how to improve their own art skills:

I’m not sure [what I’ll learn]. What art people do – like if they like drawing themselves heaps of times – if they like drawing elephants, animals, houses, landscapes? The artist likes to draw himself.

I love art. I’m going to be an artist and read heaps of books. It (the visit) could help us do art – give us ideas. In a gallery there are more paintings and more pictures and paintings than in books. It helps you find out more stuff – I love finding out more stuff.

It’s probably better artwork [at the Art Gallery]. [It will be good to be] doing more art instead of playing on the computer.

The education officer’s views Deidre aimed to reach as many students as possible, in order to give them an opportunity to visit the gallery and thus engage with contemporary culture in a way which they wouldn’t normally be able to do. She believed that we underestimate student abilities to be able to deal with quite complex exhibitions such as this one, and she felt students were more sophisticated than we gave them credit. She also believed that children could be more receptive to contemporary art than many adults: the inclusion of a Nazi swastika in the exhibition was an example of an image that provoked and frightened many mature visitors but was completely ignored by most of the younger students, since the image meant nothing to them. They were quite able to discuss art, as well as view the work. Deidre hoped that the experience of the visit would sow a seed in the minds of the students, and would encourage them to visit the gallery again with their families, or to be motivated to visit similar sites.

The inclusion of practical art workshops was a recent development at this gallery and Deidre and her team had worked hard over the previous six months, in order to develop what she believed must be a quality experience, which would reinforce the exhibition and accommodate individual

student needs:

The practical classroom work should build on what the students have already seen in the gallery. It should be manageable in the time allowed, but also provide a new skill or task for both the students and the teachers. [Deidre] These workshops had proven to be very successful, with teachers from both primary and secondary classes seeking out her expertise. A development of this had been recent requests to 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 assist with students’ preparation for NCEA qualifications, for example, requests to deliver a oneoff seminar on topics such as feminism, the art movement in New Zealand or landscape painting.

Deidre believed that the strengths of this site were many and varied. Visits to the gallery were free, and staff would also seek out sponsorship to assist less affluent schools, or those with extensive travel costs to and from the site. Teacher preview evenings were held prior to each new exhibition, to orientate teachers to both the facility and the artist’s work. Deidre said the gallery was unique in that it does not have a permanent exhibition, and hosts only the best national and international art. This gave many schools and their students an opportunity to be exposed to quality work that would not otherwise be available.

Teacher preparation The gallery was proactive in its efforts to reach schools and provide them with information about up-and-coming exhibitions. Deidre described the extensive mail-outs sent to schools in the area, in order to target interested teachers and classes. She placed considerable importance on teachers attending pre-view evenings – 45 teachers attended the latest of successful meeting.

Deidre calculated that this would represent approximately half of the schools visiting the gallery.

The opportunity to become acquainted with the exhibition, she believed, had a direct influence on the effectiveness of teacher planning and class preparation. A recent added incentive was that schools were required to complete risk management forms prior to any site visit or LEOTC experience, which meant staff members had to visit the site before taking the students out of school.

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