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AIBU?

What is it with art teachers?

36 replies

Titsywoo · 27/11/2019 21:51

DD is currently in year 10 and doing her art GCSE. She has always loved art and been very good at it (generally gets 9's in her end of year exams etc). She has two different teachers for the subject plus the head of department who pops in often to see how everyone is getting on. She also goes to art classes outside of school with a very good teacher.

Everyone of these teachers can't seem to resist pushing DD into doing things she doesn't want to do or physically taking her pencil/paintbrush or whatever and drawing/painting what they think she should be doing. This tends to make her feel cross and demoralised as she had a plan and feels her picture is no longer what she wanted. I did both GCSE and Alevel art and remember exactly the same thing happening all the time.

Now I appreciate teachers have to teach but surely get another bit of paper and show the technique so the student can try it. Don't do it for them and don't ruin their work. Art is supposed to be self expression not teachers bloody expression.

OP posts:
NoHummus · 27/11/2019 21:56

That is very annoying! Would she be confident enough to speak up, and say for example "I like my work the way it is" or "Can you show me on a different bit of paper first?". Or she could just move her hand away when they go to grab the brush! Grin

recrudescence · 27/11/2019 21:58

Yep, every art teacher in the entire world and throughout the whole of history has been exactly like this.

MitziK · 27/11/2019 22:06

I agree. But, on the other hand, they are the ones who will be giving her final work its grade, and if they don't like what she does or feels that she hasn't met the requirements for an 8 or 9, they won't mark her as high.

pourmeanotherglass · 27/11/2019 22:11

I don't think dd has had this. Possibly the opposite though, she seems to be mostly left to get on with it while the teacher checks up on the ones who are behind/ disruptive/ struggling. I think she is on a table with other kids that really like art, support each other, and get on with the task, and the teacher leaves them to it.

Spanglebangle · 27/11/2019 22:13

Art portfolios are marked externally so they won't be the ones marking it.

Can you email the head of subject and say the intrusion into her personal space is making her uncomfortable and please could teachers maintain a respectful distance from her and her work? Any response other than 'yes' would seem unreasonable and rude.

Whatsername7 · 27/11/2019 22:22

Unfortunately, Art GCSE is constrained by the requirements of the exam board. It could be that she needs to show a certain technique to get the marks. Self expression is limited when you have to meet a criteria. Im a teacher of Drama but supported our music teacher recently when a yr 11 would not listen to advice about his composition. He insisted on using a sound element that had a detrimental affect on his mark. He refused to remove it because he liked it. The teacher repeatedly explained how it would affect the mark and he persisted that he thought it sounded good. He will lose marks, but if he is happy to pay that price for personal expression, there is little the teacher can do. Its crap, because the teachers pay is linked to pupils performance at GCSE and this will impact that. There is a reason why the teachers are pushing your dd. Her coursework has to hit certain criteria. Her personal work is where she should express herself.

EmmiJay · 27/11/2019 22:24

You just bought back a flash of angry memories OP. My art teacher did this with a beautiful pencil piece I was doing for a final during a-levels. She made me keep that as a prep piece and use a completely different medium I wasn't comfortable with for my final submission. I hated it and that was reflected in the art. Gahhh! If I see that teacher in any supermarkets I'm ramming her ankles with my trolley. Your poor DD! Email the school like Pp said.

Titsywoo · 27/11/2019 22:26

I appreciate that but why kill a child's passion for a subject by constantly chasing the ultra high grades? It's so depressing. I'd rather she got a grade 6 and still enjoyed a subject she loves than get a 9 and hate it.

OP posts:
Titsywoo · 27/11/2019 22:28

Do you think an email will help? There's a fine line between giving the teachers a heads up and insulting them isn't there?

I have told dd it is ok to say "thanks but id actually prefer to do it this way..." but she's not a confident soul and worries about getting in trouble.

OP posts:
Titsywoo · 27/11/2019 22:31

That's crap EmmiJay Sad

OP posts:
Sotiredofthislife · 27/11/2019 22:34

Could it just possibly be the case that the teacher has a very clear understanding of the criteria used to assess GCSE work and what an examiner needs to see to get good grades? Small tweaks might mean the difference between pass and fail. Or a lower grade than the teacher feels your daughter deserves.

Bouledeneige · 27/11/2019 22:39

I agree that Art teachers always do this. From my DD's experience for GCSE I think she mostly took their advice on board and got an A* - she was particularly recommended for the depth of her artists research and sketchbooks and the variety of her work.

In 6th form my DD built up a great rapport with her teachers so that she researched different artists and techniques suggested by them. Sometimes she stood up to them to stick to what she wanted to do but just as often she listened to their ideas and advice about how to improve and develop her work. They were often right. They pushed her because they didn't want her to play safe, paint too pretty or neat. They wanted to develop both her skill and creativity.

She's now done a foundation course and is on a Fine Art degree and it continues there. She often resents it but its a fact of life. (She's an excellent portrait painter with oils - but that is seen as passe). So they push her a lot. Because art is creative by definition not just making nice pictures.

I'm sure you know that OP. But thats the journey through Art. Always being challenged.

nocluewhattodoo · 27/11/2019 22:55

Every art teacher does this. I'd just encourage your DD to enjoy art outside of school, doing her own projects on things she really wants to do. I lost my enthusiasm for it after having to comply with the rigid structure of the exam boards, and didn't make time for it outside of schoolwork which I really regret.

57mama · 27/11/2019 23:12

God I hate art teachers, they never actually let kids be creative. DD hated art so much in year 9 just because she wasn't getting good marks. How are you supposed to mark art??

loseyourself · 27/11/2019 23:18

Art is supposed to be self expression but it is also about technique, skill, criteria, observation, method and these are taught; every subject has criteria and learning outcomes and to think you can self-express your way past these is not going to work, else everyone would be doing the subject.

elephantoverthehill · 27/11/2019 23:25

Spanglebangle teachers do mark the portfolios. A sample is then requested and moderated by an examiner.

MitziK · 28/11/2019 21:21

For those who don't know how assessment works in Art - the kids complete their work in supervised conditions, usually on a couple of dropdown days, where they miss the other lessons and stay in Art all day.

The teachers (usually two) look at the work and mark it, then send the marks off to the exam board. Sometimes they will enlist help from art teachers in other schools, especially if the teachers are fairly new or there's been a change in exam board.

The moderators are booked either before or after that point (depending on how late they want to push it). On the day of the moderators' visit, the work belonging to the students they have selected for checking is made available to them - they usually pick the highest marks, the lowest marks and some in the middle. Often the teachers will also have a couple of other fairly certain graded works from other students to hand, just in case. If the moderators agree with the marks the class teachers have given for each piece in their sample, the marks for the entire cohort are accepted. If they disagree, they can (and do) regrade every single student's work unseen, whether higher or lower.


Composition and Performances in Music (and Devised Pieces, vivas for Technical Strand students and the final performances for Drama) are marked in a similar manner, as are Music Technology. If there is a very small class, every student has their work moderated in a visit. In addition, video and/or music files as appropriate for every student are sent to the board with the assessed grades and moderators are paid to decide whether the performances in the sample group match the grade specifications.

Essentially, if the class teachers get it wrong on one or two pieces, they can find the entire cohort's grades rise or fall with no comeback because the samples showed they assessed wrongly. So it's in their interests to get the 'right' mark and to encourage, cajole, persuade and, in some case, outright demand that they have input into the work, because they want students to get the highest grade they are capable of.

This is a fairly simplified description, it's a lot more stressful and detailed than that, but it does boil down to this Art Teacher is the one who marks her final work. So the kids need to listen to her, even if it annoys them to do so.

TowerRavenSeven · 28/11/2019 21:25

I once had a Girl Scout leader do that to me. She took all my wreath beads and such, re arranged everything then told me to glue them together. I was horrified, being 10 with a very nice arrangement already. I refused to glue it and told her it was hers and no longer mine and why. She was shocked. She also was a well known community artist.

bridgetreilly · 28/11/2019 21:35

Art isn't 'doing what you want to', especially not when you are studying for exams. She can do whatever art she wants to at home, in her own time. In lessons she is supposed to be learning, which means doing things she wouldn't have done on her own.

virginpinkmartini · 28/11/2019 21:41

This is why I hated art at secondary school. I'm great at drawing and painting in my opinion, and was capable of beautiful work, but any creativity I had was extremely stifled by a teacher who decided that certain things were 'wrong,' and that I wasn't meeting the 'criteria' so I decided to go for a lesser qualification so I could focus on the actual useful subjects. Grading art is fucking stupid, anyway. Towards the end they got the drama teacher to come in (art teacher was sacked) and start dictating to us what the exam board were looking for. I get that there are technical and theoretical elements to it, but the whole thing just seemed to be about meeting a formula and I couldn't give a shit about it towards the end. Rediscovered my love for it on my own terms.

bridgetreilly · 28/11/2019 21:42

Imagine a maths teacher who just let the kids do the questions however they wanted to, even if that was going to get them bad grades. Literally everyone would say that teacher wasn't doing their job. They ought to be correcting and explaining and getting the kids to do the work better. That is what the art teacher's job is as well.

Cyberworrier · 28/11/2019 21:42

I always ask children’s permission before showing them what I mean (sometimes a different way to hold their paint brush, or how changing a line will make a drawing more realistic). Some things are like vocabulary that unless you’re taught you may never know/use, or like correcting how a child holds a pen. Teaching people to look more carefully when drawing takes time, and often you need to SHOW them something, eg changing eyes to be level, for them to understand your point. I suppose it’s because it’s visual art!

I remember finding art teachers interfering annoying in some cases at the time, but actually found it useful to improve my skills and techniques. (See above)

Didn’t really interfere with my creativity as I would tell them to bugger off if they tried to impose onto my ideas rather than give technical advice, so it just helped me get the tools to express myself better. I ended up on a top london fine art degree at 18 so it didn’t do me any harm! I have taught art in a range of settings, schools, museums, universities, and currently teach art in a primary setting part time.

Obviously it depends on each child’s ambitions/intentions, but if, for example, they want to become a very technically skilled painter, then actually getting feedback on how they could improve is very useful. At art school, and in life actually, it’s useful to be able to discern when to accept criticism, when to accept help, and when to absolutely argue your case.

virginpinkmartini · 28/11/2019 21:44

I should also add that there is a value to knowing theory, especially when you want to work for someone i. E designer, storyboard artist, but for anyone who wants to simply express themselves, I would not recommend studying art.

Cyberworrier · 28/11/2019 21:48

Art isn't 'doing what you want to', especially not when you are studying for exams. She can do whatever art she wants to at home, in her own time. In lessons she is supposed to be learning, which means doing things she wouldn't have done on her own.
I do agree with this to some extent. If a young person loves art, they will be doing it loads in their own time. I think art qualifications have become over regimented but for someone who likes art, it’s still really not that burdensome, sketchbooks, research, set topics etc... maybe hoop jumping but can be made as creative as you like and good practice I’d say in creative thinking (eg turning dull set piece topic into something interesting, good challenge)

Fakeflowersaremynewnormal · 28/11/2019 21:52

My dd has found similar with art. The GCSE is very rigid in what you can do and a bit boring, they spent ages sketching a rope. Again dd is very talented and we always thought she would continue with art in future, but the last few years of art lessons have put her off, however she did sensibly say herself that if she can be put off so easily an art career is clearly not for her.

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