Kia ora and welcome to the July newsletter. We hope that you find some time during the holidays to relax and read the items that our facilitators have highlighted in this edition.
Our editorial is by Bridget Blair, community facilitator for Visartsnet. Bridget is Head of the Arts Faculty at Cashmere High School in Christchurch and has over 14 years teaching experience and past involvement in NCEA Visual Arts moderation. Bridget majored in photography for her Fine Arts degree and has been involved in the Curriculum Implementation Group and resource development at a national level. Her current areas of speciality are planning, teaching and assessment in the Visual Arts.
Please don’t hesitate to contact any of our facilitators if you are interested in being our guest editor – we welcome your ideas and views.
Editorial: Creativity is a kind of work by Bridget Blair
The myriad of Facebook communities, posts, emails, blogs and classes I see each week both online and in Arts faculties are evidence of a wide body of highly engaged, knowledgeable professionals. Often committed beyond the classroom walls and the school day to what they do, it is simply humbling to see in action.
The only way for me to write an editorial for such a community is to maybe hold up a metaphorical mirror. A reminder of how valuable access to creative learning experiences for ākonga is in Aotearoa, thanks to dedicated Arts educators. Especially when compared with countries where Arts are excluded from the curriculum, or, curriculum subjects with limited access to learners and funds to provide materials. Unfortunately, in poverty stricken communities the reduction of Arts programmes has simply widened the poverty gap and has been “a disaster for social justice” E.D. Hirsch, University of Virginia ‘The Knowledge Deficit’.
New Zealand Arts educators may still feel we have to justify our place as an essential learning area but according to Cindy Foley in her excellent TED talk we need to “move art education out of a defensive place... towards an offensive message, especially around creativity.” This is especially important given the kudos that creativity is being given as a valued attribute for 21st century learning. Open-ended, inquiry based learning, rather recently touted as a teaching approach to nurture creative thinkers has long been a natural approach in the Arts. As one online slogan states; “The Art Room – the original makerspace”.
Luckily (or unluckily depending on your standpoint) Arts are not included in the cohort of standardised testing subjects in the primary sector. While this may limit funding for national Arts resourcing, on the flip-side it allows for a wide variety of experimental, cross-curricular projects and freedom for teachers to also take risks and play. Although there are particular skills in the Arts that need dedicated learning time, seeing students combining essential learning areas in the primary sector such as art and science in classes brings to mind some of our original ‘creatives’ such as Leonardo Da Vinci.
In the secondary sector, teachers are skilfully negotiating the various hurdles that standardised assessment can present. In many senior NCEA Art courses for example, students are able to select their own subject matter and formulate this into an individualised proposition for a body of work. I’ll never forget an ERO visit a few years ago when I was chastised for not highlighting this individualised approach in department documentation as it was “pure gold” – we thought everybody worked this way.
So as well as continuing the amazing range of practices out there:
Spread the word – sharing is vital. Ever-expanding administrative workloads often make this a lower priority. However, this is how we ensure that despite limits on funding and teacher training in the Arts we continue to provide a world-class Arts education for students while sharing the load.
Work to our strengths – and crow loudly about them to anyone who will listen; innovation, collaboration, intellectual curiosity, initiative, ‘grit’, critical thinking, and creativity are key factors to success in the Arts and key skills required for 21st century learning.
Keep playing – with ideas, scissors, clay, paste, props, twigs, water, sound - any materials that requires more than a pair of eyes, ears and thumb to operate, these skills are in decline but still needed.
See creativity as ‘a kind of work’ – says Scott Berkun. Discuss metacognitive processes with students and research it as professional development. Celebrate Arts students’ abilities as ‘creatives’ who can cope with ambiguity, diversity, use integrated thinking approaches, collaborate and innovate and are ready for a future-focused world.
Promote failure – support students to fail and understand failure as an integral part of the creative process. Check out ‘fail resumes’. As Scott Berkun stated in ‘Creative Thinking Hacks’; ‘If you are not failing, you’re not doing something sufficiently difficult or creative”
The last words are Cindy Foley’s but I share her wishes. My son asked me the other day about his next school and I told him he was very lucky to be going to an intermediate school with a specialist Art Teacher, I hope that remains the case.
“I want my own children to think like artists no matter what career path they may choose... where ideas are king and curiosity reigns”.
As teachers look to external examinations, a reminder that all scores and audio material from past examinations are copyrighted so not publicly viewable on the NZQA Music page. Contact your Principal’s Nominee to obtain an ESSA secure login to gain full access.
NZ Jazz Foundation January Student and Jazz Educator Workshops now have registrations open. A great way to introduce students to improvising during the week-long course. For teachers, it is a foundation course for beginning a Jazz Program at your school. This year’s guest is New York-based Louis Bonilla.
Tū Move - the New Zealand School of Dance is again offering its Tū Move course for young Māori and Pacific Island men. Running for a week in the July school holidays, Tū Move is a free workshop, giving 14 - 18 year olds a crash course in a variety of styles that include street dance and contemporary dance. Tū Move runs 18 - 22 July 2016 at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington.
Short courses on teaching strategies and content for art history from New York’s Museum of Modern Art
Auckland City Art Gallery
Time: Connecting Past and Future 18 June 2016 – 26 November 2017
In its constant state of transformation time is implicitly linked to narratives of the past and the histories that we create to remember and explain it. Includes works from Ralph Hotere and Peter Robinson.
History Sees Division 18 June 2016 – 26 November 2017
Protest art and social commentary from the 1980s – the Springbok tour, anti-nuclear protest, the Aramoana smelter.
Mallika Sarabhai, a dancer/actor/politician, tells a transformative story in dance and drama — and argues that the arts may be the most powerful way to effect change, whether political, social or personal in this TED Talk.
Teacher Resource Exchange
The latest NZQA Moderators Newsletter includes a link to an updated Music Matrix and also some successful examples of Integrated Curriculum Delivery and Assessment.
CI Ping-Pong: ping-pong question balls to generate class discussion about elements and principles - targeted at the Communicating and Interpreting strand of the Arts curriculum.