A small rant about diagrammatic illiteracy in the Arts Curriculum draft document

This has been my longest ever break in blogging since I began nearly three years ago. Family matters have been very pressing, and I ended up shutting down all my projects until things were on a more even keel.

During this time, however, I’ve either tried or wanted to blog about any number of things: the Steve Reich retrospective held at the Sydney Opera House at the end of April, the value of learning the melodic minor scale, background information on my piece Vendetta which is currently on the Trinity Guildhall Grade 5 piano syllabus, a post on how I’ve let a student down by not teaching her to read chord charts before now, a review of the Nico Muhly/Sufjan Stevens/Bryce Dressner collaboration “Planetarium” as performed here in Sydney at the end of May, a Top 5 Things Parents Need to Know Once Their Child Starts Taking Piano Lessons list, as well as a discussion of the value and challenge of playing on the black keys in the very first lessons, a discussion of the new-look and hopelessly fuddy-duddy Limelight magazine, and looking at piano lessons through the lens of gifted education.

But I have a new topic to add to the blog-post-wish-list: the latest Arts Curriculum draft document from ACARA. About 18 months ago I blogged (relentlessly) about the buried misconceptions about music education in the previous draft document, and I’ve taken a quick look at this new draft and felt my spirits sink as I see a whole new batch of blind spots, insufficiencies and outmoded assumptions.

For now, however, let me simply draw your attention to Figure 1 on page 5. This is a diagram of such woeful conception that it calls into question the general literacy of the authors of the draft. I know it’s a tad old-fashioned of me, but I do expect that educators understand basic concepts as what a Venn diagram is for and when not to use one. The most generous interpretation I can put on the inclusion of this poorly conceived figure is that the writers of the curriculum have just discovered the possibilities of SmartArt in their Word program. Which begs many questions about their capacity to author the Media Arts section of the curriculum document.

But, you know, if it’s good enough for a US presidential candidate, right?

8 thoughts on “A small rant about diagrammatic illiteracy in the Arts Curriculum draft document

  1. I don’t think take that diagram to be a Venn diagram. I take it to be an artistic representation meant to evoke the idea that the five areas listed all overlap with or contribute to each other.

    Other than that, I’m delighted to see you back blogging, as yours is my favorite blog.

    • Thank you for your kind words!!

      It’s an interesting idea – that the diagram isn’t supposed to communicate anything other than an overlappingness; I would argue there are better diagrammatic representations of this thinking than the diagram they chose, and I’d imagine that if they were more visually literate they’d have made a different choice. But perhaps they did consider other options and *still* opted for this no-value-added image?! Who can tell?

  2. Two quick thoughts:
    1. We’re fighting the same battle in Alberta (Canada) with Arts Curricula. Sometimes the fight gets so tiring…
    2. Glad at least I’m not south of the 49th parallel north.

  3. Agreed that they could have chosen something more appropriate but it does at least show the overlapping nature of the areas discussed.

    So pleased to see you back writing.

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