Artists introduced different classroom discourse patterns

The patterns of talk between artists and students differed from traditional teacher/student exchanges. It was often highly personal and anecdotal. Unlike teachers, the artists did not explicitly identify the learning objectives they had in mind for the group. There were clear, often moral, messages in their talk, but they were delivered more as warnings or beliefs than as lessons. The underpinning logic of the artists’ talk was not generally the school logic of cause and effect (hard work bringing reward; misdemeanours bringing punishment); it tended to be a looser logic of going with the flow, trying hard and trusting that things will probably turn out right if you approach them cheerfully and with good intentions.

The artists asked and answered fewer questions than teachers. They used a lot of analogies, but explained less than teachers typically do. They tended to avoid giving feedback, other than in situations where praise could be offered. They encouraged guessing and welcomed suggestions, other than in the strongly professionally framed sessions.

The most marked distinctions between teacher and artist talk related to the work the students were engaged in producing: teachers were more oriented towards judging quality and artists were more concerned about the inherent meanings of the piece.

Video materials

A selection of videos from our Vimeo channel on different classroom discourse patterns can be viewed below.