Adopt an Artist - Edinburgh College of Art

Adopt and Artist - Running with Scissors

Adopt an Artist was a pilot partnership project involving art students from Edinburgh College of Art and teaching students from Moray House School of Education. The students were asked to devise activities for young learners in schools inspired by works from the National Galleries of Scotland’s collections.

The Moray House Teaching students were to ‘Adopt an Artist’ (an art student from Edinburgh College of Art) and plan together to address the needs of the young learners in the classroom, enabling creative learning. This involved creating a set of activities, inspired by art works from the National Gallery of Scotland, to teach Mathematics, English Language and Art & Design.

Rowena Ashrad, The Dean of Moray House, School of Education, requests that if you do nothing more, please read these words from Callum Arthur, one of the PSCE student maths teachers:

“I’m a student maths teacher and art is sort of the furthest thing on my mind really when it comes to day-to-day teaching and day-to-day life. Art doesn’t really factor in. And so when this opportunity came up I was thinking, wow, this is a really wonderful opportunity to try something different, to really push myself in terms of my teaching practice and in terms of my own mathematical skills. How can I apply this and create something that people will want to look at?

"I was working at North Berwick High School with a third year class. It was a great opportunity to play to the strengths of the learners in front of me. Many weren’t very good at mathematics... but so many of them were fantastic at getting involved in practical projects and being creative and really working hands on to build something. So to be able to deliver the mathematics in that way brought out a whole new side to the learners that I was working with and enabled them to show me that actually they’ve got so many skills, so many talents, so many things to offer me that I wasn’t seeing by delivering mathematics in a traditional way. In moving forward from this project as a maths teacher, I’ve seen that I need to try different things. I need to take risks, I need to run with scissors and be creative and imaginative in the way that we deliver Mathematics, English and Art because kids can do amazing things if we give them that opportunity.”

The project aimed to demonstrate how art can be used successfully and imaginatively across the curriculum, to have an impact on the future of education and embed the role of art and artists in the classroom.

And its success can be attributed to the experience of its leaders Amanda Gizzi and Susan Mowatt who recruited the students and encouraged them to commit to the project by creating a template for contracts to be exchanged between the students, and by providing creative ways for them to keep journals.

Working with National Galleries of Scotland

The involvement of The National Galleries of Scotland added another dimension, giving the students the opportunity to learn about the work of the NGS Education Department and use works from the Gallery’s collection as the basis for their projects. NGS also hosted the Adopt An Artist exhibition which celebrated the project and gave participants an opportunity to meet and share their experience and also ensured that it was seen and understood by an audience of thousands. The exhibition also inspired a book where you can see the artworks produced alongside descriptions of the processes involved.

Amanda and Susan hope to build on the experience of Adopt An Artist to further develop opportunities for art students and student teachers to work with teachers in the classroom, possibly evolving the idea to include new CPD for teachers.