I have been investigating how different works of art can be used to support and enhance teaching and learning in Old Testament modules in the Common Awards programmes.
My two main aims were:
i) to investigate the distinctive contribution that art can make to the teaching and learning of the Old Testament, and
ii) to explore and illustrate different ways in which art can be used to support the teaching and learning of particular biblical modules.
It has been a fascinating and rewarding experience to try different approaches to using art within some of my modules, and to read to student feedback from their questionnaires. Inevitably some students did not find the art particularly helpful, but the overwhelming majority found it a positive learning experience and could articulate ways in which the artwork had opened up new questions or interpretations on the biblical texts we were studying.
I have found that using art encourages me as a tutor to trust in the mutuality of the learning experience, especially since as a biblical teacher I am not an expert in art! Precisely because of this, using art can generate a transformative experience in the classroom, as students and staff can learn from each other, and critical questions and interpretations of biblical texts can emerge. For those students who engage with academic subjects more easily through visual representations, this was an oasis of learning for them, and the discussions flowed in a way that would have been entirely different, had we been studying verbal interpretations of the texts.
The project is nearly at an end, but I am currently preparing a range of different resources to encourage and support other biblical tutors in their teaching.
Collaborators: Naomi Wormell (Westcott House, Cambridge); Philip Jenson (Ridley Hall, Cambridge), Neil Thorogood (Westminster College, Cambridge), and Mark Scarlata (St Mellitus, London)
This project has been funded by a Durham Common Awards Seedcorn grant, for which I am very grateful. The Seedcorn Grants exist to support research projects that are designed to inform or challenge the content of what is taught and/or the theological visions underpinning the teaching and learning.