International Journal of Art & Design Education

Don't Judge Pianists by their Hair

Volume 12.3   1993



Hughes reviews the history of critical and contextual studies in schools and identifies a key issue as the lack of any sound theoretical underpinning, either from the field of art education or from other disciplines. He contends that the field is coming to the end of an initial, pre-theoretical phase of development, but there now seems to be a danger of a vacuum with much routine art and much routine thinking about art in schools. Hughes offers a critique of the development of the National Curriculum and acknowledges that some progress has been made through the work of Rod Taylor, Norman Binch, Anthony Dyson and others. He concludes that critical studies must engage issues and imagery that connect with pupils’ current ‘taste manifestations’, vivify the art curriculum, and replace the constant repetition of information about the predictable high peaks of the Western tradition.

This is one of a series of papers published in Volume 12, No. 3 that originated from a seminar held in the summer of 1993 at the University of Central England, Birmingham, entitled ’Critical Studies the Next Ten Years’.