Getting students at BWYA to see that you can’t cram for art
KC Vienna Connolly started doing art as a way to keep from getting too bogged down with the trials of high school. A trained sculptor, she decided to join her sister, also in the arts, in Beijing three years ago and now teaches at the Beijing World Youth Academy. tbjkids sat down with KC to discuss her students’ upcoming exhibition, the fairness of grading art and why she once refused to hug a teddy bear.
What’s the most challenging part of teaching art?
I always try to stress to the students that art is not like math or science. You can’t cram all night. You can’t study 24 hours and do really well on a test. I explain to them that its probably one of the hardest subjects in the IB program because it’s really demanding and it’s something that you have to keep up with.
How do you grade your students?
This is something that’s really tricky for me. I don’t think it’s fair to put a grade on a final piece of art. A lot of the things that I focus on are craft. I just encourage the students that if they didn’t do well on a project, it doesn’t mean I don’t like them, it doesn’t mean that their work wasn’t good. Grades are tough but I think if I just keep informing students about what the IB is looking for then they can understand it, and within two years they know what’s good and what’s not in the eyes of the IB.
What’s the most innovative project you’ve seen by a student?
The assignment was for them to create dangerous toys – this idea of creating something that you know is harmful, but trying to pass it off as not. One of the students presented a teddy bear and at first I thought he didn’t get the assignment. But then what he had done was he had taken the teddy bear to Wangjing Hospital, had gotten it X-rayed and showed that it was full of nails and wires. And it was just far out because he was like, “Why don’t you hug my Bubu?” and I was like, “I’m not hugging your Bubu.” It went above and beyond what I expected from the assignment and it was just a complete success.
Tell me about your students’ upcoming exhibition.
The exhibition is what the IB students work for in the two years that they are in the program. What I try to do to is make it a professional experience for them. It’s just a way that students can see all of the work that they’ve done within the last two years. And everybody can see and give a bit more respect to the art department and realize we’re making art over here. We’re producing really powerful and meaningful works of art.