International Journal of Art & Design Education

2003 - Volume 22. No 1

Art Education for Life

Volume 22.1 2003


In this paper I argue that art is a search for meaning, and should be taught and learned in that context. The immediate goal is to understand others and ourselves better, allowing more intelligent and meaningful action in the arena of life. Toward that end, I suggest that the social agenda of art education, in a world that is both increasingly interdependent and turbulent, can be the construction of community through personal, group-centred, and cross-cultural understandings approached through art. I examine traditionalism, modernism, postmodernism, and contemporary visual culture for content and strategies to serve the purposes of art for life, and construct the outline of a model for instruction utilizing those concerns. Finally, I make a case that thematically mining and creating art works, performances, and visual culture for aesthetic significance that ultimately frames, forms and enhances meaning is the primary strategy for this construction of community, not in the tribal sense, but universally.

Connections: A Collaborative Design Project

Volume 22.1 2003


This is a study of the Connections project; a collaborative design exercise between Birmingham School of Architecture and Landscape, and local primary schools. It explains the processes and outcomes of this annual collaborative design exercise, in which students of architecture join forces with primary school children, to explore connections between architecture, and various subjects of the National Curriculum. It shows how graphical learning methods, from architectural education, have been adopted successfully across the curriculum at primary level. Three phases of the project, and their different kinds of graphic communication, are identified. Learning in each of these is explored with supporting evidence from students' diaries and interviews with teachers. Two examples of recent project work are used to show processes and outcomes. The first, a Science and Architecture project, demonstrates how methods of working gave a clear relationship between abstract ideas, and representational models and drawings. The second illustrates quality of outcomes, and depth of understanding in an Art and Architecture project. Finally the study introduces ongoing research, based on the Connections project experience, which addresses the scope of learning at both curriculum levels.

Get It Off Your Chest: Contexts in Creative Community Working

Volume 22.1 2003


Three years ago I started work on the exhibition Get it off your chest, a multimedia project exploring the personal and social role of the breast within British culture. The project would involve over one hundred people as contributors, engaging with ongoing debates within academic, media and informal contexts as to what constitutes and impacts upon constructions of the female image within our society, particularly in relation to the breast as a primary signifier. The working practices evolved in creating Get it off your chest were instrumental in generating a synergy in my own creative activities, enabling some measure of unification to occur within the strands of my art-making and art educational roles. This synergistic approach, which I term 'creative community working' will be discussed in this paper alongside the epistemological focus of the exhibition, its inception and its consequent structure, presentation and wider educational role. I will focus throughout on exploring the development of creative community working contexts: the impulse to integrate what sometimes seem like rogue elements of the professional and creative identity is one shared by many members of the art educational community and I hope that this paper will generate feedback and discussion on the diverse ways in which colleagues generate synergy in their own working lives.

Blindness, Art and Exclusion in Museums and Galleries

Volume 22.1 2003


Drawing on interviews with blind people, this paper examines both their exclusion from museums and galleries and their responses to the art educational provision that is specifically designed to remedy that marginalisation. Blind visitors' responses to these educational projects were polarised; respondents were either highly critical or very enthusiastic. This paper begins by outlining the interviewees' criticisms which included; education officers' misconception of how touch facilitates learning and aesthetic response, a lack of educational progression and blind people's exclusion from mainstream events. I then ask why, given these problems, did other respondents reply so favourably, suggest that these high levels of satisfaction had little to do with museum provision but were in fact the result of social interaction and of rare inclusion within the sighted community. I argue that, ironically, this sense of inclusion is premised on blind visitors' structural exclusion from art institutions. Finally, the article examines those visitors who, illicitly or otherwise, already experience some aspects of the museum in multisensory terms, but maintain that until museums' and galleries' ocularcentric orientation is reconfigured, there will be little possibility for these rogue visitors to develop their knowledge of art. Likewise, without institutional change, educational events for the blind will continue to be an inadequate supplement to a structure that is and remains inequitable.

Using Photography in Art Education Research: A Reflexive Inquiry

Volume 22.1 2003


This paper reports on the uses of photography in some research into domestic crafts in Brazil. This research, which included fieldwork and curriculum development components, was carried out with the aim of investigating crafts five women practised in their homes in Santa Maria and celebrating them in art lessons in primary schools. Photography was used in the fieldwork part of the research to collect visual data about the women and their crafts and to develop a visual resource for use by art teachers. In the curriculum experiments it was used by school children to record aesthetic aspects of their homes. This paper reflects on and compares the different kinds of photographs taken by the researchers, the women and the children and some strengths and weaknesses of using photography as a data collection tool in art education research.

Towards a Radical Pedagogy: Provisional Notes on Learning and Teaching in Art & Design

Volume 22.1 2003


This paper presents a personal perspective on some of the ideas and issues that currently surround learning and teaching in art and design within higher education. It aims to stimulate debate and to raise questions about the direction in which an increasingly monolithic educational culture is moving. It identifies a number of beliefs and values that the author considers to be particularly important to the development of a radical pedagogy and argues that the sector needs to counter the drift towards a technocratic and overly deterministic approach to education. While being intentionally wide-ranging and polemical the paper seeks to bring together a number of disparate ideas into a useful and coherent interaction. The continuing relevance of education as an emancipatory and transformative project is affirmed, while certain features of modernism inscribed into current educational practices are questioned (for instance, exclusivity, subjectivism and absolutism). Changes in the ways in which knowledge is viewed are discussed in relation to assessment, learning, research and the construction of the 'self'. A re-orientation of learning and teaching is suggested around a process-based pedagogy that places particular emphasis on indeterminacy, pluralism, revisibility and dialogue.

Learning to be an Art Educator: Student Teachers

Volume 22.1 2003


Visual Art educators are keenly aware of the significant contribution art can make to the growth and development of young children as it provides unique opportunities for personal expression and creativity. However, while it is acknowledged that art contributes to the development of the whole child, the link between thought and practice is often tenuous. Hence the question needs to be asked, what do student teachers really think about art and art education. This longitudinal study aimed at an exploration of student teachers prior experiences, existing knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and interest in the visual arts. One hundred and ten B.Ed. (Primary) students enrolled in two compulsory Visual Arts Education units of study were surveyed in March 1999 and then in October 2001 to ascertain how they interpreted the term visual arts; how this related to visual arts education (if, in fact it did); where they would position visual arts amongst the other five key learning areas of the primary curriculum; and ultimately how they felt about the prospect of teaching visual arts in a primary school context. The findings of the research revealed a number of significant differences between the initial data (March 1999) and the final data (October 2001).

Practice-Based Research Degree Students in Art and Design: Identity and Adaptation

Volume 22.1 2003


Within the United Kingdom higher education system there has been a recent growth in practice-based research degrees in art and design. This constitutes a relatively recent innovatory step in doctoral education, with students now able to submit for examination a written thesis combined with practical work in over forty academic departments. It also constitutes an intellectual innovation in terms of attempting to combine the creative impulse with traditional research criteria such as the need for systematic analysis, documentation, theorisation and so on. To-date little has been written about research students adaptation to such practice-based research degrees, and so, in order to chart the experiences of such students, qualitative interviews were undertaken with 50 research students at various UK universities. This paper based on those interviews examines one dimension of how students adapt to this kind of study, focusing on their conceptions of identity.

Tangible to Intangible

Volume 22.1 2003


This paper is focused on curriculum development through a series of design investigations in a second year interior design studio. The studio investigations consist of three related projects: a women's shelter, a personal shelter, and transformable furniture. The theoretical and practical design issues addressed in these projects were informed by a case study of a unique built project in Toronto - Strachan House: Special Needs Housing - that the author participated in as part of the design team for Levitt Goodman Architects. The structure and implementation of these projects in a design studio setting demonstrate the fusion of specific curriculum goals and expectations with student needs and learning objectives as well as current design issues with diverse research topics. Specifically, these design investigations emphasize an individual programmatic response by each student to the generic design criteria presented within each project to encourage a less prescriptive and a more collaborative studio atmosphere.

Going Dutch: The Development of Collaborative Practices Between Higher Education and Museums and Galleries

Volume 22.1 2003


This study reports on a very successful collaboration between teacher education courses in Manchester and Amsterdam and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The central aim of the initiative was to promote and sustain partnerships between Higher Education (HE) institutions, public galleries and schools with a view to developing, delivering and sharing good practice in art and design within a European context.