El Blog del museo Picasso de Barcelona

New school course with new proposal from the Educational Service

A new school course starts with all the challenges and unforgettable moments it brings with it, both for the students and for the teachers. At the Museu Picasso we are ready to welcome them in our galleries and to share the experiences of learning and aesthetic enjoyment that happen when ones deepens  in the relationship with works of art.

So as to work more in this line and to get the most out of the time that the students spend with us, a major change has been undertaken at the Educational Service in terms of educational methodology. The new proposal we have developed is based on the importance of observing and dialoguing in front of a work of art, so as to analyse the elements that are present, and by means of the comments that emerge, to construct collective knowledge directly related to the interests and the level of the group, as well as providing the tools that foster autonomy when facing artistic creation, be it the work of Picasso or any other creation.

In a moment of proliferation of images, and above all images in movement, it is more relevant than ever to tackle aspects that are typical of museums: the importance of looking at the original work and not a reproduction, to capture better the gesture, the colours and the proportions thought up by the artist; the observation and the reflection about the image and its significance in depth and with time, to bring to light its contents; and the work in its creative context, either in a monographic museum such as ours, or in the framework of collections organised thematically, stylistically, or temporarily.

The methodology that has been chosen is based on the one developed more than thirty years ago by Philip Yenawine and Abigail Housen, known as “Visual Thinking Strategies” (VTS).  This teaching and learning focuses on the students based on shared debate that generates the observation of the work:

  • It focuses on the students because it is based on their observations, cognitive level  and interests that the discourse about the work they are looking at is constructed.
  • It is constructed from the shared debate thanks to the work of the educator, who becomes a moderator of the children’s comments, based on the posing of open questions that encourage debate.  The educator paraphrases these opinions so as to enrich the vocabulary and widen the information, linking them together so as to make clear the content constructed by the kids.
  • It is a debate based on the observation of the work because they will constantly be asked to search in the work for evidence to back up their comments: on the one hand they will get used to basing their opinions on arguments, while on the other hand maintaining a conversation focused on a work of art.

During the past course and part of the previous one, the members of the Education Service underwent training, becoming familiar with this method, which has changed our work in a profound way.  We have gone from being educators to moderators, and if before we transmitted a message, now we have become receivers of that of our groups, working on the joint creation of open contents instead of thematic and closed ones. As in all processes of change, there have been moments of doubt when facing the new challenges, but also moments of great satisfaction in seeing the possibilities opened up with the girls and boys.

And when putting this methodology into practice, we have observed that it significantly increased the attention and curiosity of the students during the session. The fact of actively participating and of constructing the debate around their interests involves them in the process, and that moreover the fact that this content is created based on their comments makes them feel more closely linked to and capable of talking about art. As a group, listening to each other and assessing their respective opinions and often modifying their own, is an exercise in the competent use of language and also of critical thought that fosters dynamics of respect between them.

The most effective proof that this system works is that in these new visits there is a situation we no longer see: that of the children that use up the time of the explanations by the educator to chat up among themselves or that, sitting in the back row, get lost in thought or become restless.  We now deal with children that are alert to the comments of the others, and often we can’t cope with all the comments that arise.. When we walk from one work to another, the debate that has been initiated often continues, and we notice how they keep on asking each other questions about what they have just seen. And when they leave, instead of saying goodbye to children who if we were lucky will remember if they have enjoyed the visit or not, we are saying farewell to a group whose curiosity has been aroused and who has obtained tools to be competent in front of any work of art.

Anna Guarro
Head of Public Programmes

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