Making connections in art, craft and design
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Making connections in art, craft and design

26 October 2018 By Susan Coles - Creativity, arts and educational consultant and artist

Making connections in art, craft and design

One of the best things about teaching art, craft and design is that there is so much choice. It is also important to remember that we teach art AND craft AND design and that a successful art curriculum will involve all of these. We should build assessment through four different skills.

1. Generating ideas: 
    Skills of designing and developing ideas 
2. Making: 
    Skills of making art, craft and design 
3. Evaluating: 
    Skills of judgement and evaluation 
4. Knowledge: 
    Acquiring and applying knowledge to inform progress 

These four skills also relate to the work that children will do when they make the move to key stage 3 and 4, so embedding them in the primary curriculum is important. They are also skills which are transferable across curriculum areas which employers tell us they want the current and future workforce to have. These have been identified as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity (Partnership for 21st Century Learning).

There are so many other generic school learning areas which can be covered by the art curriculum. Personal, social, and health education (PSHE), spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC), literacy and numeracy, for example can all be taught through art, craft and design.

Art should also be taught through expressive and personal work created individually, in small group/pair work, and in larger group scenarios. Many of our leading architectural and design environments in the world of work have ‘open doors’ or open plan spaces, where people ‘hot seat’ and work together in groups, small and large. 

1. Drawing and its worth

One of the most important aspects of the curriculum is drawing. Drawing is often interpreted as drawing from observation. That is important yes, but drawing has other purposes and it is very important that teachers and children understand those. Drawing is also important in many jobs, not just those in the creative and cultural industries, for example surgeons use drawing, engineers use drawing.

This free download from NSEAD is a very helpful guide for teachers:

Schools can benefit too from looking at the work of the Big Draw and taking part in the annual celebration of drawing. This can really help children to see drawing as a tool for learning in all curriculum areas. Details here:

Drawing can have a purpose if used for perception, for invention, for communication and for action. The sketchbook is very important to this and it is also a place where children can record their ideas, their thinking, their evaluations, their experimentation, their individuality. Don’t treat the sketchbook in the same way that you treat an exercise book. Marking and feedback should be in response to the creative activities of drawing, ideas and design work, rather than to writing. Sketchbooks should be exciting to look at, touch and feel, and are central to good practice.

2. Visual literacy and thinking outside of the box

We are also talking about encouraging the teaching of visual literacy through the subject – a necessity in today’s world. Our lives are filled with media which has images, symbols, infographics, charts, maps and so many other types of visual communication. Art has a major part to play in developing this across the curriculum. An image can be used to start any lesson, in any subject, in a school setting.

Some schools have distinct art curriculum models and time slots, some schools link art with the content and focus of other subject areas. If linking to a theme, thinking ‘outside of the box’ helps to make the art connection more relevant and contemporary. For example, a teacher asked me how she could make art lessons linked to studying ‘The Vikings’ more exciting than making the annual paper mache helmet or the usual cardboard shield. We developed a design project where the children could choose from various starting points/briefs. One was to design and create a logo and team strip for a sports team called The Vikings. This involved the children looking at and evaluating existing designs and using their own knowledge of the Viking imagery and culture to create something original. This idea can lead to all sorts of possible directions, Viking brand jewellery, Viking breakfast cereal, Viking trainer shoes etc. 

Involving children in the whole process of art, craft and design can help with them understanding the essential value of the subject and the clear connections to the creative and cultural industries. A project on architecture, for example, can involve history, geography, art, mathematics, science, DT, and English, and have a digital or a 2d or a 3d outcome. It would develop their understanding into what goes into a building, from ideas through to designing, through to creating. Employment in the creative and cultural industries is important to the current and future UK economy and there is no doubt that job opportunities will grow. To be a good artist, maker or designer you need many skills from across the wider curriculum. Make sure that your children see the relevance of what they do.

To read more about this and key stage related expectations, please visit:–resources/england

Categories: Education

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