Artists did not use fixed outcomes, but open-ended challenges
In contrast to lessons with pre-specified learning outcomes, exactly what would be learned in the artists’ sessions was often quite open. The creative ‘session’ was not so much about following a road map as journeying together and seeing where the group arrived.
At the start of the creative practitioners’ sessions, the challenge was often presented as being just out of reach but probably attainable through collective hard work. This gave sessions a feel that was distinctly different to lessons where the learning outcomes are chosen and asserted by the teacher in advance. The artists’ sessions celebrated challenges met through hard work, in contrast to lessons where failure to achieve the required learning becomes the main marker of distinction.
Practitioners were always at pains to stress to the students that there was no definitive right or wrong answer to artistic problems. The emphasis was on whether the work looked and/or felt right to the student in the context of what else was happening in the class. Standards were apparent and applied, but individuals were expected to develop their own skills of discrimination and judgement. There was therefore a stronger orientation towards intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation and evaluation in the artists’ sessions.
A selection of videos from our Vimeo channel on the use of open-ended challenge can be viewed below.