During art class today, we had a visiting art teacher from the National Day School, 北京十一学校, in Beijing. The National Day School is a respected bilingual school in Beijing, and although it is not technically an international school, it has both local Chinese students and international students from abroad.
The visiting art teacher is going to be visiting ISB for the entire week this week, so I am looking forward to talking to her and asking her about her experiences teaching art. It would be interesting to hear about the differences she has noticed between the ways art is taught in Chinese schools and International schools like my school.
Today, she seemed fascinated by how we have the freedom to explore what we want to create through our projects and sketchbooks. I was really interested in how she teaches the students at the National Day School, so I decided to show her my sketchbook and ask her about some things she's noticed being at ISB.
"When I teach the class, I just tell the class what the assignment is, and when I receive the works from all my students, they often look very similar- almost identical to each other," she said. "Oh, so do you give your students examples of what the work should look like?" "Yes, and often times, the works that I get back look very similar to my work that I showed them."
Walking around to each IB students' desks around the art room, she was seemed so impressed and even inspired by our studio works! She was taking notes on her notebook and taking pictures with her Ipad, saying how she should consider giving more freedom to her students in art class.
What was the most interested was, though, that she was also saying how "too much freedom can be dangerous for art students," that students need some guidance or limits to what they can do in order to be successful. I think this is an intriguing and a very "Chinese" idea. Personally and ideally, I think art should be something that everyone should freely be able to create and express themselves through. But I know that especially in China, sometimes freedom can be "too much," too much that it would give a wrong kind of message to the government.
Maybe what she meant by freedom being dangerous was that students need to learn about the techniques and have certain limits to what they can do, in order to be truly creative. In art class, If the students are given certain materials to create something out of, or a topic they have to follow, they are motivated to produce something that is extraordinary and creative. Introductory art teaches the students the very basic skills first, so it would build the foundation on which the aspiring artists can build later on in life.
Either way- I think she gives me a perspective on arts education that I can't gain being in ISB. If have the opportunity to, I want to maybe interview her and talk to her more- It's a great chance for me to practice my Chinese, as well.