Understanding the New Syllabus

The New Visual Arts Curriculum Guide

has a core syllabus consisting of 3 linking areas.

A syllabus is an outline or summary of the main points of a discourse, paper, lecture, or the contents of a curriculum. Therefor the syllabus is not a prescriptive curriculum guide or planner but rather an indication of the content that the course should include. In the new visual arts guide, the syllabus can be referred to as the backbone of the course, the content that will be addressed through the various components of the course (not to be confused with the 3 assessment components!). For the pedagogically inclined, this page takes a closer look at the new syllabus to gain some understanding of the changes in content to the course. The new course proposes three overlapping areas within the study of visual arts.

Visual Arts in Context

Visual Arts Methods

Communicating Visual Arts

Breakdown of 3 Linking Areas

If this sounds quite broad and ambiguous; let's consider what this syllabus might mean for visual arts teachers, breaking down each of the 3 linking areas from the diagram above.


1.Visual Arts in Context

culture, context and critical thinking in visual arts

Examples of teaching activities for this area ( many of which you already include in your teaching):

Use the visual arts journal as a record of individual inquiry and investigation, give advice on appropriate Referencing and Citing Sources

Discuss the formal qualities of particular works as a whole class, introducing students to ways of analysing, critiquing, interpreting and deconstructing artworks ( see Painting Visual Analysis , Visual Analysis in the Media , Easy Visual Analysis )

Teach how to look at artworks considering Culture and Context , expose students to a range of artists and artworks Selected Artists and Shows

Include Lessons in art history—with accompanying contextual background

Demonstrate how to use secondary sources (such as books and audio-visual materials, appropriate art-specific internet sites) Research and Practice

Identify and engage with primary sources such as galleries, exhibitions and working artists

Provide many opportunities to learn specialist  Art Vocabulary and terms and put in practice.

2. Visual Arts Methods

Exploring and acquiring skills, techniques and processes involved in making artwork,

To insure that students are exposed to a wider range of techniques, materials and processes, throughout the course they are expected to experience working with several different art-making and conceptual forms. SL students with at least two art-making forms, each selected from separate columns of the table below. HL students with at least three art-making forms, selected from a minimum of two columns of the table below. Go to Art Making Forms Table page

You can of course add more art making forms to this table- it's merely a starting point!

3. Communicating Visual Arts

the processes involved in selecting work for exhibition and public display

As students begin to develop a body of work, they are encouraged to engage with curatorial strategies that underpin exhibitions and the presentation of work for an audience. This means thinking about the process of selecting and rejecting works for exhibition, and considering how they can best be displayed. Students will consider methods of display, chronological or thematic, and explore how meaning is communicated through presentation.

This is perhaps the newest curriculum devlopment, and a significant difference from the old guide. It is the "bringing the course into the 21st century" For a more in depth look at what is meant by curatorial practice go to Curatorial Practice

Download the pdf presentation of Understanding the New Visual Arts Syllabus

From Syllabus to Assessment

The syllabus represents the values that underpin the course, and sets the guidelines for assessment. It is the educational philosophy that determines the shape of the course. The actual assessment however is based on 3 components that are not strictly speaking exactly the three above but rather an overlapping and interweaving of these core values.

Each assessment component is fully discussed in pages under The 3 Course Components

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Comments 2

Lora Sanders 22 May 2017 - 19:21

Hello. I was wondering if the art form table refers to the "Exhibition" part or both the "Exhibition" and the "Process Portfolio". I have a student who wants to submit all Acrylic paintings for her exhibition, but she has used different media and techniques in her Visual Journal.

Heather McReynolds 22 May 2017 - 19:59

Hi Lora, the art making forms table requirements refers only to the PP, the exhibition can be in any media, even all in one media if the student chooses. Please refer to the thinkib.net


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