International Journal of Art & Design Education

The Meaning of Artistic Tradition in a Multicultural Society

Volume 15.2   1996



Teaching art in a multicultural society requires teachers to develop an understanding of the nature of artistic knowledge with regard to the cultural backgrounds of all children, so that the validity of art relates to the ethnic structure of contemporary society and takes full account of its historical origins. This paper draws on experience of teaching art in a largely homogenised minority of Scottish Gaeldom, where historical perceptions of what constituted its tradition were profoundly significant to the aims of educating its young. And where, the teacher happens to come from outside that tradition, the importance of understanding the formation and interpretation of tradition[s] is a paramount consideration in deciding what and how to teach art. This paper focuses on the central issues and draws upon relevant literature to support the case that art must be taught with commitment to the context and artistic future of a multicultural society.