Something that came up in a discussion on Facebook made me think about the use of piece for piece copies and how this is the traditional way to learn about the Rules in Roman mosaics. It's a bit of the long post but you might find it worth reading.
Making piece for piece copies of Roman/ancient mosaics has been the norm for everyone learning the Rules but I'm wondering if that is now outdated? One way to look at it is that making piece for piece copies is the best way to learn to.........making piece for piece copies. Is it the best way to learn the Rules if you're making copies of Roman mosaics? I'm not sure I think it is now.
Take one rule, Borderline. You want to teach someone to learn to use this Rule in their mosaic so you teach them what it is, why it is used and for them to understand it better you have them make a piece for piece copy of a Roman mosaic showing the borderline. They can't help but get it right because they use the mosaic equivalent of a paint by numbers technique.
But, what if you taught them the what and the why, got them to look at photos of originals with the borderline shown and then had them do a mosaic and put the borderline in themselves? What is the difference in looking at the photo of an original and doing a piece for piece copy? You get the same information, but in the time it takes you to do the copy you could have looked at hundreds of photos of mosaics with borderlines.
We have very little information about how the Romans worked but I bet when they trained their apprentices/slaves they didn't have them make copies, they just told them the what and why then had them just get on with it and correct them as they went along.
The other post had a link to a blog post where someone was talking about having to do a piece for piece copy of a Roman mosaic under time pressure. I think having students do this work against the clock is of no use and inappropriate. I know I'm presuming a lot to question these schools but making copies like that does not, in my opinion, help you understand how they worked. In Roman mosaics it's not just putting in the Rules, it's the also the way you work at a set speed maintaining a set standard. This is not art, it's craft, closer to the skills needed to tile a modern bathroom than those needed by a modern mosaic artist.
Maybe now we need to look at teaching ancient mosaics in they way they were (presumably) taught in the first place?