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Secondary school art teacher with sad failure to relate to difference

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marie115
marie115 Community member Posts: 1 Listener
edited October 2023 in Education
I was reading on the Scope site about SEN & Disability understanding for secondary school teachers, and I was reminded of something that happened many years ago now. An autistic young relative in my care (who is very good at art), was in an art class (Year 9) at a local mainstream secondary school. The teacher was teaching the technique of faithfully reproducing an image, such as a drawing or painting, by imposing a grid over it and then carefully reproducing the contents of each square of the grid onto the page, hopefully to create a faithful copy. My young relative loves all things miniature and tiny. He would probably be in the market for copying out the Jedi Code on the back of a postage stamp (well, OK, I exaggerate a bit, but you get the idea). So young relative was very interested and involved and he was inspired to strive to reproduce the whole image, in miniature, in just one square of the grid. Arguably, a far more challenging endeavor than the task set by the teacher. And what did he get for his efforts? A humiliating telling off in the classroom in front the other kids, later carried on in the corridor after the lesson bell. His interest and engagement in the task dismissed. In a few minutes flat, an insensitive teacher bent only on his own preconceived outcome (and potential class GCSE grades) destroyed his relationship with a gifted, sensitive child, who had a vision of his own. Isn't that what art is about? When I took the teacher to task about it the next day, he told me he was the 'kindest teacher in the school'. I asked him why didn't he just watch in awe? But then I am an early years teacher, and maybe we see things a bit differently. A very learned early childhood educator, Professor Tina Bruce, once wrote that, 'Learning is a dance, sometimes the child leads, and sometimes the adult'. I think that that long ago art teacher needed to practice his dancing skills, hone his understanding of and respect for difference, and explore the real nature of art and express it in his practice. A term or two teaching three year olds wouldn't have come amiss either. Amongst many other other things, they are the most uniquely creative, lateral thinkers on the planet. You can't give them a sterile task.
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  • Albus_Scope
    Albus_Scope Posts: 5,552 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hi there @marie115 and welcome to the community!  Thanks for some great insight there. 

     It really sounds to me like that teacher was expecting the pupil to do a foxtrot when they just wanted to tango! Personally, I'd have been amazed at such an interesting take on the original work. 

    And if they do decide to make a mini Jedi code please post it here.  I'm a big Star Wars geek. ;) 
    Albus (he/him)

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    Neurodivergent.
  • Tazzie
    Tazzie Scope Member Posts: 29 Courageous
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    I had a wonderful art teacher in secondary school who said "Art is not the end result- art is the process!

    The teacher clearly confused the two. They were not confident enough to be flexible- or to see the deviation as creativity. They could have said "That's amazing! But, I am teaching you the grid method to help you ... can we do both, or use the grid method to make your picture very small?" and encouraged rather than judged. How sad. The teacher was so focused on the task they forgot the student, the *human* who they were charged with supporting, helping, and developing. 

    Teachers underestimate how much damage their immaturity can cause. My husband still remembers when a teacher criticised him- the teacher was talking about how the class would be decorated for Christmas and said "we will put a star on the tree". My husband said "We put an Angel on our tree" and the teacher said "So you think I'm wrong? NO one cares about your Angel!" He was 6. Instead of seeing his comment as him trying to understand and contribute, she was threatened by a small child. The end result was- he spent the rest of his time in school trying to remain invisible, not raising his hand, and never volunteering anything. 

    I get so angry when people use something as wonderful as art to hurt and deflate a talented your person. I mean, I don't like anyone treating anyone badly especially those who have more struggles than most, but to use something beautiful and enriching is tragic. I don't know how I would survive without art. 


  • Biblioklept
    Biblioklept Community member Posts: 4,948 Disability Gamechanger
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    I found school very much about producing clones and everyone to come out the same way. So doing exactly as asked and not using imagination or creativity. Creativity isn't encouraged in schools, especially beyond the primary phase. 
  • Biblioklept
    Biblioklept Community member Posts: 4,948 Disability Gamechanger
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  • Jimm_Scope
    Jimm_Scope Posts: 3,560 Disability Gamechanger
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    I find the people that refer to themselves as "kindest" rarely aren't. If you're kind, you don't have to tell anyone about it.
    They/Them, however they are no wrong pronouns with me so whatever you feel most comfortable with
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  • WhatThe
    WhatThe Community member, Scope Member Posts: 1,250 Pioneering
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    Lol like the people who say "trust me.." I never do!
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