COMPARING OLD AND NEW: SIMILARITIES (Visual Arts courses)

In my last post, (Are you ready for the new visual arts course?)  I encouraged teachers to attend a visual arts workshop to learn all about the new course – which many (including me) will be teaching next month.

For those new to the DP a comparison with the old (but still current) course may have no relevance, but if you have been and are teaching the ‘2009 onwards’ course, it may be useful to note similarities/differences.

Here I am going to outline some of the similarities between the two course – I will go through some of the differences in a later blog.

The Similarities

There are many similarities between old and new: in particular, there will still be an important art investigation/research area, an important art-making aspect, and as before everything culminates in an end-of-course art exhibition.

Secondly the programme still values and validates the role of the teacher – including your ideas, context, strengths, approach and how you interpret the programme. The individual approach that currently characterizes the best investigation and studio work will also shine through the best exhibitions, process portfolios and comparative studies from 2016 onwards.

For both these reasons, I’m not initially going to change much. For example, my opening assignment usually introduces students to important course components – the process of investigation and the process of experiment and exploration.

Investigation has involved looking at artwork made by others, and learning from this and often incorporating what was learned into some form of art-making. Initially I suggest a selection of artworks. A little later this can be left more to the student.

Exploration involves experimenting with media and techniques. Again, initially I suggest specific areas – photography, printing/mono-printing, collage or paint etc with a link to something discovered in the investigation.

These work well with both old and new courses.

Both investigation and exploration could occur in the visual arts journal, in much the same way that they could currently appear in the workbook.

Many of my MYP students are familiar with the Developmental Workbook, and will be able to make a natural transition to the Visual Arts Journal. And of course there are many similarities between the (old) investigation workbook and the (new) visual arts journal.

Neither was/will be formally assessed, but both (will) contain elements that might be extracted for assessment. This would be investigation workbook pages for the current course and will be work for the comparative study, the process portfolio and possible the exhibition for the new course.

The comparative study is not new.

The top-level markband for HLA investigation (current course) says that the selected pages should

analyse and compare thoughtfully art from different cultures and times, and consider it carefully for its function and significance”.

For the comparative study (new course), “students are required to analyse and compare artworks, objects or artefacts by different artists. This independent critical and contextual investigation should explore artworks, objects and artefacts from differing cultural contexts”. (New guide page 36)

My students have been doing comparative studies for many years and are well used to it.

The phrase ‘analyse and compare’ occurs in both guides.

The exhibition is not new. Almost all schools already have a Diploma Art Show of some sort or another. In the new course, there is more focus on presentation, artistic intention and having some form of explanatory text, and fewer pieces are expected than at present, but the culmination of the course is still an exhibition, showcasing the best (most resolved) pieces to an audience.

Essentially, what worked well in the 2009 course is very likely to work well in the course that starts in a few weeks’ time: if your students are creating great investigation pages and great studio work now, then they – and you – are already doing things right. Don’t stop!

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