International Journal of Art & Design Education

Style, Technique, Context: Art and Design History in the GCSE

Volume 6.2   1987



While most pupils are likely to wish to relate Criticism and History to practical work the paper argues the case for allowing and encouraging those with an enthusiasm to concentrate on Criticism and History as an independent study. Acquiring a 'broad understanding', if it is to be genuine, entails a capacity for synthesis; and that synthesis is impossible without some mastery of detail. Teachers are urged, therefore, to consider the interdependence of detail and breadth: to give pupils opportunities to study particular works and also, complementarily, to help them towards an understanding of broad contexts. These statements reflect: recognition that there is more than one legitimate way of studying the history of art, and that pupils may be helped to make a rational choice among them; a conviction that the acquisition of propositional knowledge, the assimilation of established facts, is inescapable if the subject is to be properly understood; and some misgivings concerning the popular 'general survey' approach.