Ged Gast and Professor Andy Ash introduce the tool, explain why we need to challenge off-the-peg curriculum orthodoxies, and discuss how the Big Landscape will help you to plan and implement and inclusive, relevant and learner-centred curriculum.
The NSEAD Big Landscape is an evolving curriculum planning, development and review toolkit, available as an online interface and large-format poster. It is for art, craft and design teachers, as well as curriculum researchers, specialists and non-specialists at every level and phase. It can be used as a handbook to help improve or rewrite your existing curriculum, functioning to engage colleagues in curriculum debate that can lead to a fit-for-purpose, 21st- century curriculum, with learners and community at its heart. The Big Landscape will encourage consideration of curriculum principles, content and design, and so will also be helpful for anyone training as teachers, or leading training in school and university-based programmes, including practitioners identifying objectives for post-graduate research.
The toolkit functions as a visual classification and online interface to help build a better understanding of the content, dimensions, scope, and wider aspects of your art and design curriculum. It also includes the pedagogical approaches that promote high-quality teaching and learning. It is a non- hierarchical taxonomy and a framework which functions like an aide-mémoire, providing definitions and exemplifications to support curriculum planning, actions and review.
As a research tool, it can be used to explore links, make connections across concepts and view best-practice exemplars. NSEAD plan to include a wiki function to make it fully interactive, so that members can edit, and add and extend concepts and ideas, sharing their own better practice to keep the curriculum alive, relevant and evolving.
The Big Landscape reminds us of the importance of determining the values and the ethos we set for learning in our subject. It will help us select the relevant knowledge, content and processes to develop the most suitable skills, habits, behaviours and attributes in our learners. These include critical analysis, exploration and expression in response to visual and other sensory stimuli, and consideration of concepts, issues, themes and dimensions.
The SIG for Better Practice developed the Big Landscape. The term ‘landscape’ is a metaphor for both the immensity and scope of art education, and the infinite number of different individual learning journeys or ‘routes’ young people might take through this terrain. It maps the diversity of subject topography, and the places and experiences we might visit (our intentions), as well as the breadth of learning approaches and actions we might use to help pupils navigate the visual and physical art world.
Today, GPS devices enable us to search for creative routes and helpful destinations. We can explore experiences and places we might visit en route, with multiple pathways across different types of terrain and destinations. As a metaphor, the Big Landscape will help us to navigate our way, and consider how we want to journey and plan for our next destination or outcome. We might choose to start from ‘Design’, for example, visiting the key concepts of a design process to acquire specific design drawing and 3D-making skills. We would be learning essential design behaviours, while analysing the work of creative designers who inform our approach to modelling or construction. After a review of the terrain (our journey), we might consider its impact, taking a different approach and modifying our next journey.
How to use it
The Big Landscape has several bands of information that can be used to gain an overview of the art landscape. The sky-blue band is called What?, the green band is Why? and the orange band is How?. Each of the bands is comprised of blocks, laid out horizontally. In each block, you can drill downwards into further layers of detail and information.
Online, there will be further exemplification, and signposts to resources and/or case studies. This content will be drawn from work across NSEAD’s research groups and SIGs, including the Anti-Racist Art Education Action Group (ARAEA), the Anti-ableist Pedagogies SIG (AAP), and the Gender, Art and Transformative Education group (GATE). Members of our Better Practice SIG and NSEAD will share and shape exemplars and content, while key AD and iJADE articles will also be signposted. This content is not fixed. It is dynamic and will grow in response to the need for further guidance.
In each band there are blocks (25 in total) setting out the purpose or description of the content below. There is no linear route through the bands of information, as it is not a scheme but a summation of everything which might be included in your curriculum planning and development.
On our website, members will be able to explore each band and block in detail, finding out meanings and ‘drilling down’ into another layer for even more expansive explanations, exemplifications and links to resources. Alternatively, you might range across the bands of information to consider their selection and choices.
What?, Why? and How? bands
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Join the Better Practice Research Group
This NSEAD Research Group is defining and building guidance for better curriculum design, pedagogy and learning approaches in art and design. We welcome members from all phases, settings and roles in education.