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Would Leonardo da Vinci Have Used an iPad Pro

By David Kelly, MYP/DP Visual Art, Grade 9 Advisor

Would Leonardo da Vinci have used an iPad pro? I have no doubt. Artists and those with creative inspiration have always looked for ways to express their ideas and passions through innovation. Great achievements have never occurred unless there has been a willingness to embrace whatever means are available to explore, experiment, take risks and push beyond what is comfortable and familiar.

The current circumstances that have in some ways separated faculty, students and parents from each other have, in other ways, brought us together and in new ways. In ways that are requiring innovation, creative thought and determination to look beyond what we may have accepted as best practice.

As Visual Art teachers, much of the teaching we provide is grounded in skills acquisition with tangible, physical materials. But of equal importance is the development of creative thought to find ways by which those skills can be used for a greater purpose than simply ‘making’. Skills and creative thought must support the other for outstanding achievement to occur, the concepts being expressed through high quality crafting with a variety of media.

Online learning provides opportunities for two other vital elements in the creative process – independence and community. While the latter is constant while in a physical school day, the former is sometimes difficult to find. Being able to log in and out of online classrooms can provide students with a level of quiet and individual space to focus in a way that isn’t always possible otherwise. 

The necessity for us to deliver online learning experiences for students is an opportunity to push ourselves as teachers and students to see what we can discover. Already we are using software packages such as Google in ways that share information, images, and conversations instantly from room to room and country to country. Our classrooms are unlimited across time and place. The potential of digital media in the manipulation of images is limitless and the sharing of those images between classmates, and the provision of feedback and studio critiques can happen in real time as well as over extended periods. Students are looking at materials and subject matter in different ways, seeking out inspiration in their homes and external environments that previously were restricted to the Visual Art rooms at school. They are finding beauty in places not before appreciated through the discovery of practicality in atypical contexts and inspiration from the ordinary. Drawing, painting, researching, sculpting, photographing, reflecting, collaging, digital manipulation and most of the activities usually undertaken in Visual Art classes are still possible online, just with a different approach.

We strive in the Arts to transform the development of creative thought into original outcomes. Education in the Arts seeks to inspire and guide this process. Though the practical means of achieving this require some modification in the online platform, the essential elements of strong relationships, diligence, and passion remain constant and no less evident in our Branksome Hall Asia Community.