Most of the classes that I teach are relatively large. Mostly they are between twenty five and thirty pupils, more often than not, closer to the thirty. That presents plenty of problems at times, mostly relating to the basic practicalities of working with large groups and messy materials or difficult to use tools. Also, simply getting around a class of thirty a offering some individual guidance in a lesson of sixty minutes is challenging to say the least.
There are however also advantages, and as far as I’m concerned, working on large scale group works are one of the them. There are so many good reasons for doing it once in a while with any class or group of people you might be working with. Consider the following points:
- The strength of building on the group identity, a team working together as a number of ‘social’ advantages
- The lower achievers share a chance to participate and have a place in a greater whole, my experience is that this works particularly well
- Pupils like to help and support each other for the benefit of the group work
- Large artworks do simply have a ‘wow’ factor. In the first instance that can be fantastic in the classroom as pupils realize that something a bit special is coming together, there can be a quite tangible buzz of success. Outside of the classroom larger works do tend to put the activities of the art department very much in public view, and that can only be a good thing!
- It can also have the positive spin off that the more able pupils realize for themselves that they too might actually be able to try some more ambitious scale work.
Group work certainly isn’t something to use very week, but it does offer some great possibilities. I once watched a Tim Rollins workshop with some art students, it was one of the key moments that moved me towards working in art education and at the same time was a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved in group work in the arts.
The film below is pretty old but for any one interested in art or education it is certainly an interesting watch.