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Adult Inspection Agency Finds Much to Praise in Arts Training Methods

The stereotype that is fitted onto both artist and the teacher of an artistic subject is a similarly dilettante ““ esque frame that appear to be as anachronistic as a “Save the Dodo” campaign.

The artist, for instance, is focussed on image and shock value. The hair of the musician, for instance, is long and shaggy, or shaven into a grotesque mimicry of some swear word or sports symbol or another. The attitude is also widely acknowledged to be feckless, without discipline and focus. The artistic subject tutor is expected to be either a strict disciplinarian with a heavy Eastern European accent who speaks lovingly of the days when the cane was acceptable, or an overly friendly leather elbow pad wearer who perches on the chewing gum infested desk and asks everyone to “Call me George, buddy”.

A Li”l Respect

The days of the stereotype are long gone, or so our social scientists would love to have us believe. According to the soon ““ to ““ be ““ absorbed Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI), this is one stereotype that the evidence does not support. In a recent announcement, the ALI have declared what many an under – funded Arts Department has clarion called for years; namely, that teaching methods for visual and performing arts should be emulated and not ridiculed.

According to the report from the ALI, the standard of training and education for adult learners in subjects within the visual and performing arts (VPAM) is better than that provided in any other sector. The ALI report, entitled “Artswork: Can excellent teaching change peoples lives?”, established that there were more good or outstanding grades in inspections in the arts than any other subject area.

To dwell on the specifics, some 21% of the courses in the VPAM sector were awarded outstanding grades by the ALI, as opposed to an average of 14% for the other areas of learning. The arts are also normally accused of not offering enough to the economy, and thus bearing the “waste of time and money” tag. However, the arts make a valuable contribution to the economy; the sector contributes to £16.5 billion to the UKs economic output. The arts can also transform individual’s lives in improving personal skills, interaction skills, and social inclusion.

Strong Performance

The ALI do not want to let this opportunity go to waste. The belief that the messages and lessons from VPAM training can be learnt in other disciplines has led to their calling for including encouraging independent learning by allowing students to devise and create something of their own during the course; teachers encouraging learning by demonstrating passion for their subject; and using games and role-play to encourage greater participation.

The ALI are therefore calling for training providers and further education colleges to adopt some of the teaching techniques found in the sector to raise standards across other subjects. To this end, they have included a short documentary about five people, chronicling how their studies have taken their life in a new direction through training This DVD is narrated by Sir Christopher Frayling, Chairman of the Arts Council.

Another Training Mystery Solved, Holmes”¦

The Chief Inspector of the ALI, David Sherlock, said of the report and DVD: “This film goes some way to casting off the old stereotypes about the arts. The arts are not just about soft skills – we found they can help in applying new technologies, using critical analysis or managing complex projects. The ALI would like to see providers in other sectors taking a leaf out of the book from the arts sector.

“It does not matter if you are teaching a technical subject like engineering – there are still things that can be learnt from this report,” he continued, calling attention from all areas of learning. “The documentary focuses on individuals, and tells some compelling stories in doing so, but the film also exposes more general truths about what makes exceptional teaching and the fulfilment that can be found through lifelong learning. We hope it will inspire teachers, whatever their subject, to think a little more creatively about their approach to teaching.”

Jethro Marsh

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