On Accessibility in Arts & Sciences Competitions: Crown’s A&S Championships

Greetings!

The MoAS Office has taken steps over the past several years to try to make the Crown’s A&S Championship competition more accessible for a wider variety of entrants. I want to take a moment to talk about these efforts, some of which you might be familiar with, and some of which might be new to you.

First: In the Crown’s Championship A&S rubric, grammar/spelling has been removed entirely from consideration when judges are scoring an entry. Note that the information an artisan presents must still be presented in a manner that is organized to make logical sense to the judge. However, we firmly believe that editing mistakes should not be counted against an entrant. In addition to moving the focus of judges to more significant content-based criteria, this change will benefit people with dysgraphia/dyslexia/and other proof-reading or writing issues. When we train judges, we ask that as long as a judge can reasonably work out what an entrant is saying, that those sentence-level errors don’t get counted against an entrant in any way.

Second: In Crown’s A&S we have asked that judges consider verbal as well as written documentation when talking to entrants during the competition. We have also made it possible for entrants to choose to do entirely verbal documentation. Now, we admit that this is not necessarily an easy task! An entrant opting for this path would need to be very familiar with their sources so that they can find and present citations/evidence for the points they are making during their presentation and in response to judge’s questions. But, we have made it an option for folks for whom writing is just not an option they want to use. The MoAS office is happy to work with any entrant who would like to use this option to help them plan the best way that they can verbally present their work.

Third: The office has put some tutorials on our website designed to help guide artisans to learn more about how to get free academic sources, how to understand academic terminology, and how to construct a basic source citation, so as to not limit folks because of their educational background. The A&S Consultation Tables we hold at events also provide artisans an opportunity to ask questions and get one-on-one feedback about all areas of A&S, including research and writing documentation. The office is also teaching beginning and advanced research and documentation classes. We have taught these classes at Pennsic, and we will be teaching these classes at the ED Artisans and Scholars Exhibition in April. We are even working to teach a variety of classes online in an attempt to reach as many people as possible using different outreach methods.

NOW: One question that the office has seen being asked on Facebook recently has to do with what artisans can do when the historically correct period process/materials are not an option. This could be due to cost, space, physical ability, etc. There are many reasons that prevent us in the modern world from accurately reproducing a period technique.

One option an artisan can use is to create a project using the Research Project rubric. Framing your project in this way can allow artisans to potentially complete a project with no physical activity/materials requirements, or entrants can use a combination of research and activity that rises to the level that works for them and their specific situation. Also remember, a research project does not have to be a research paper. It can be a poster or other type of visual display.

High scores on the competition rubric are also possible for an artisan to achieve, even if they are not able to create their entire project using period materials or period processes due to space, physical, financial or other limitations. Creating a small sample of a project using a historic method or material, and thoroughly discussing both the history of these materials/processes and any differences that exist between the period and more modern materials/process, has the potential to earn an artisan a very high score on the rubric.

Finally, while the rubric is designed to measure a wide variety of artisan accomplishments, especially at higher levels, please also remember that champions are chosen by the royals based on interviews they conduct with a pool of the higher scoring artisans of that day. This means that one absolutely does not have to get a perfect or the highest score to become a kingdom champion.

Do you have thoughts about other steps we can take to improve the accessibility of our kingdom A&S competition, while still encouraging our artisans to grow and discover more about period practice? Please let us know at moas@eastkingdom.org.

Lissa (EK MOAS)
Written with Mistress Elena Hylton

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