Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Beyond the rubric - Subjectivity

Last week we had an invigorating session with Olivia and presentations from two curricular theme groups, SILLY and DISCOMFORT. Here is a brief recap of the evening. Olivia shared a pecha kucha about the New School Art Styles developed through Spiral Workshop. Next, Olivia invited teachers to follow various prompts around picking the "most aesthetically pleasing", "most beautiful" and "most artistically significant" cracker out of a packet of nine crackers. People worked in small groups to determine the criteria for selecting their crackers. Each group presented their findings and then Olivia asked a member of each group to "execute the judgment" by smashing the remaining crackers. This exercise is modeled after a Fluxus score.

Determining which cracker is "most aesthetically pleasing", "most beautiful", or "most artistically significant"

Presenting the criteria to the whole group

"Executing the judgment"

Following this activity, Olivia presented several provocations - "What is our job as art teachers?" and given various forms of criteria ("beautiful", "aesthetically pleasing", etc.)  "What is the teacher's task in writing a rubric with regards to judging student work?" This provocation led us to think about how difficult it is to fairly assess student art work.

Olivia suggested that we cannot objectively judge student artwork. Subjectivity and context are key to any on-going assessment. Olivia pointed out the difficulty and perhaps impossibility of assessment as an exercise in objectivity. She suggested that the subjectivity of assessment is not arbitrary, it's contextually based. This is a very complicated conversation. It might be worth while for everyone to read Olivia's Manual Barkin award speech presented at the NAEA last year in San Diego.

We invite you to comment on your experience with the Fluxus exercise. How do you respond to the ideas presented by Olivia? Please post your ideas!!

Following this conversation, the SILLY and DISCOMFORT themes presented their pecha kuchas. We responded with feedback suggestions and ideas for extending their curricular work. The evening ended with each thematic group developing next steps.

We look forward to the next series of pecha kutcha presentations in February and March to see how the curricular themes are developing.