International Journal of Art & Design Education

Art History and Critical Studies in the Core Curriculum

Volume 6.2   1987



In this paper it is argued that participation and appreciation are complementary aspects of art education and an attempt is made to justify the inclusion of Art History and Critical Studies in the core curriculum for all pupils in Britain. One important factor in the argument is that everyone has a need for and a right of access to his or her cultural heritage. There are a confusing number of terms used to describe art historical activities and each of the various traditional approaches to art history assumes background knowledge and concepts. The art teacher of a secondary comprehensive school who wishes to teach the history of her subject most probably teaches mixed-ability groups of pupils from the age of eleven onwards who have rarely encountered original works of art or have any knowledge of art other than that produced in school. They are most likely to include amongst their number several who have no wish to be there at all. These circumstances certainly constrain the type of art-historical work that can be attempted in secondary schools.