International Journal of Art & Design Education

Listening for Creative Voices amid the Cacophony of Fiscal Complaint about Art and Design Education

Volume 29.2   2010



The current tertiary education climate in Australia and other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries is one where class numbers are increasing and contact hours between students and teachers are reducing to keep them financially viable. In this context increasing pressure is being placed on teachers to essentially ‘do more with less’ and to perform well, despite the changing conditions. Students, too, are challenged to learn in an environment where they have less time with their teachers. What seems surprising is that all of this is occurring whilst the rhetoric of tertiary institutions is being more closely aligned with contemporary constructivist theories of learning with a focus on producing creative graduates.
This pressure is now being keenly felt in creative disciplines where studio models of teaching, which require small classes and substantial contact hours, are seriously under threat. If tertiary institutions genuinely want to produce creative graduates there needs to be more widespread understanding of how creative processes are nurtured and creative minds are fostered. Many experienced teachers in creative disciplines have developed such understanding. Their voices need to be encouraged and supported so that the artistry of their creative pedagogies may be articulated and heard above the cacophony of fiscal complaint.
We do not naively suggest that financial issues should be disregarded. We do, however, call for a middle way where sophisticated conversations, about both the quality and viability of creative educational practice, amongst all stakeholders can allow for an authentically creative future to emerge.