International Journal of Art & Design Education

2018 - Volume 37: Number 1

Drawing and Storytelling as Political Action: Difference, Plurality and Coming into Presence in the Early Childhood Classroom (pages 6–17)


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This article is an embodied representation of how narrative illustrates Hannah Arendt's ideas of action, natality and plurality. It is, in essence, a story of a story that situates the actions of two young children as an instance where difference came together through the political and public act of drawing. Throughout the unfolding of the event, and in the subsequent retelling of that event, subjectivity came into presence, for both the children and myself. Our knowing was mediated by our immediate experience and understood only in the reflection of the experience. The encounter highlights how early childhood art practices can serve as an opening for contemplating a relational theory of learning. It further illustrates how narrative frameworks provide important opportunities to respond to difference through the reorganisation and reintegration of ideas generated in action.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12097

Arts Shoved Aside: Changing Art Practices in Primary Schools since the Introduction of National Standards (pages 18–28)


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This article reports on the understandings and practices of primary teachers in implementing the arts curriculum since the 2010 introduction of National Standards in Numeracy and Literacy within the New Zealand Education system. The ever-mounting pressure on schools to perform to these standards has resulted in a reduction of emphasis and time allocation in the classroom to the arts. In numerous schools the arts have been marginalised to little more than that of decoration and marketing status. Data was collected using a questionnaire and individual interviews from 124 primary teachers within nine schools located in three geographic clusters. The large majority of these teachers indicated that art was not a priority, and that less time was spent on creating art works since the introduction of National Standards. The art that was taught tended to be integrated with other teaching areas. Teachers in referring to art were often referring to visual art which was the dominant art discipline. Professional development for staff in the arts was non-existent and was never part of a teacher's professional appraisal. All aspects of the National Arts Curriculum were very rarely taught, with most teachers feeling ill prepared to implement the full arts curriculum. In classrooms where an art discipline was successful taught it was largely due to the passionate interest and prior involvement in the art by the individual teacher.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12096

Young Children as Curators (pages 29–40)


VOL 37.1

Literature that addresses young children's learning in galleries and museums typically concentrates on what is already offered and discusses what has proven to be effective, or not, in accommodating their needs. This article offers insight into how objects can be explored with early years children at school, to create greater understanding of galleries, museums and their collections. I argue that through an exploration of curation as a meaning making process, children transfer experiences to make meaning in other contexts that place high value on learning in and through art and artefacts. I present a case study carried out in a Tower Hamlets primary school where children, aged 4–5, were invited to collect and display objects in a role-play ‘museum’, with the aim of presenting artefacts typically used in their classroom. They were encouraged to make new meaning from familiar objects through a curatorial process involving creative display and role play. This project enabled young children to address their own ‘heritage’ rather than the more typical situation in which children are taken to museums in order to learn about that of others. The findings of this study highlight values that young children place upon museums, emphasising the need for greater interaction and play when engaging with objects in educational contexts. When young children are allowed to assign their own meaning to objects by transforming their purpose, they are more likely to develop an understanding of the intentions of museums and develop more curiosity towards the curatorial decisions made by others.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12100

Imitative or Iconoclastic? How Young Children use Ready-Made Images in Digital Art (pages 41–52)


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Digital art-making tends to foreground the inclusion of ready-made images in children's art. While some lament children's use of such images, suggesting that they constrain creativity and expression, others have argued that ready-made digital materials offer children the opportunity to create innovative and potentially iconoclastic artefacts through processes of ‘remix’ and ‘mash-up’. In order to further this debate, observations are needed to explore the different ways that children use ready-made images in their digital art and the various purposes that these images can serve. Adopting a social semiotic perspective, this article offers an in-depth examination of five episodes of 4–5 year-olds’ digital art-making that collectively demonstrate the diversity of approaches that young children take towards the inclusion of ready-made images in their digital art-making. The article discusses these findings in relation to suggestions for what adults can do to support children to adopt a playful and critically aware approach to the use of ready-made images in digital art-making.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12104

Preschool Children, Painting and Palimpsest: Collaboration as Pedagogy, Practice and Learning (pages 53–64)


VOL 37.1

This article describes a small, collaborative, arts-based research project conducted in two rural early childhood centres in regional Australia, where the children made large-scale collaborative paintings in partnership with teachers and researchers. Observation of young children's artistic practices, in order to inform the development of pre-service curriculum and pedagogy was a central aim of the project. The findings are framed with respect to pedagogy, practice and learning: the pedagogy that supports children's artmaking; the benefits of learning in and through the arts, and the notion of collective practice in early childhood settings. Findings suggest that collaborative and intergenerational artmaking in early childhood settings enable powerful learning opportunities. A combination of establishing a rich art environment, applying constraints, yet allowing for children's agency can create a rich and engaging art education, which is vital in any setting if children are to develop their aesthetic awareness, artistic skills, and critical, abstract, imaginative, collaborative and creative thinking. The role of the proactive art educator in children's development is crucial, which has implications for teacher preparation and in-service professional development. These project findings also have implications for ecologies of learning and communities of practice from early childhood to higher education.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12113

Visual-Spatial Art and Design Literacy as a Prelude to Aesthetic Growth (pages 65–73)


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In bridging ideas from the forum of visual-spatial learning with those of art and design learning, inspiration is taken from Piaget who explained that the evolution of spatial cognition occurs through perception, as well as through thought and imagination. Insights are embraced from interdisciplinary educational theorists, intertwining and dividing their contributions along Piaget's lines into three interrelated aspects: perceptual, intellectual, and imaginative. In the quest for early literacy, the perception and ordering of universals of form, the formation and wielding of internal intellectual constructs, and the construction of metaphorical and imaginative ideas and creations are all involved in aesthetic growth. With further understanding, the arena of visual-spatial learning as enhanced by art and design learning, may find more inclusion in general education.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12110

Drawing as Social Play: Shared Meaning-Making in Young Children's Collective Drawing Activities (pages 74–87)


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The ability to construct shared meaning with peers is important for young children's social and linguistic development. Previous studies have mainly focused on shared meaning-making within cooperative pretend play with little mention of other childhood activities that might promote intersubjectivity. This study investigated the group play that occurs within young children's open-ended drawing activities and how this encourages the development of shared meaning. One preschool class of 4–5 year-old children was observed over eight 1 hour free play sessions. During each session, the children were presented with a variety of drawing materials and large drawing surfaces. No restrictions were placed on the number of children that could participate, or the subject matter of the drawings. The findings support the notion that group drawing can be understood through theories of socio-dramatic play. The children initiated and maintained shared meaning through the use of common knowledge, and applied various verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to advance the joint theme. This study supports the integration of open-ended drawing activities in early childhood environments.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12116

The Visual Differences of the Classroom Walls in Chilean Primary Schools (pages 88–100)


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In a world increasingly saturated with images, the visual aesthetic dimension should play a more important role in the educational processes. Furthermore, classroom walls could be considered valuable resources to introduce visual literacy among children and teachers. However, Chilean educational policies tend not to pay much attention to visual culture in the classroom. Hence, the selection of visual images displayed on classroom walls as well as the way they are exhibited should be more carefully thought through. Under the assumption that visual resources are pedagogically significant elements, the present investigation examined the images displayed on the classroom walls of the first year of primary schools in the district of Peñalolén in Santiago, Chile. We present a comparative analysis of visual environments found in different administrative types of schools (municipal, subsidised and fully private schools), using a qualitative method, as well as a quantification of the sample schools. The analysis shows that inequality between types of schools reproduces in images, favouring private schools in aspects such as the degree of planning of the visual environment, student participation in terms of production, the aesthetic quality of the images and its iconographic variety.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12130

Towards a Dialogic Understanding of Children's Art-Making Process (pages 101–112)


VOL 37.1

This article is intended to identify the complex process of children's art making by bringing new methodologies into the analysis of children's pictures. This article analyses the art-making process of a selected drawing by a five-year-old boy. The study builds on previous findings regarding children's verbal discourses during the art-making process in terms of aspects of learning and suggests a possible method of combining two approaches, visual and verbal discourse analyses. In the process of creating one picture, the focal child, Daniel, made a series of drawings that revealed his own interests and included other voices. In doing so, he used the picture as a mediation tool to reflect several children's personal stands, their interactive process and the larger social discourse.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12131

The Sabar Ways of Knowing: Sustainable Ideas towards Educational Ecology(pages 113–124)


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In common conception, art is often confined to a painting, sculpture, architecture or performance; we maintain however that what enables any art or artistic practice to become aesthetic is human experience. Arts and aesthetic practices are integral to the everyday lives of the indigenous Sabar tribes of India, particularly, in ascertaining Sabar ‘ways of knowing, being and doing’. This article describes the nature of Sabar aesthetic experience, and its educational relevance, through an empirical study employing ethnomethodology and innovative participatory tools. It examines definitions and identifies limitations considered through an indigenous lens before introducing the social actors of the study. Findings illustrates how aesthetic practices empower voice by enabling multitextual expressions, rebuilding trust with the community and generating data that other methods may render invisible. The article offers discussions on how everyday aesthetic experiences and practices are imperative to the development of an authentic being. It conceptualises an educational ecology towards the realisation of sustainable educational systems and culturally critical ideals of education. We argue for an education for emancipation, through difference not domination, through enabling aesthetic and authentic beings. Ultimately, we urge a critical and creative future citizenship that is empowered by education, not constrained by its demands.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12137

The Current State of Arts Education in Iran: A Case Study in Two Elementary Schools Using Educational Criticism (pages 125–136)


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The central aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the recently revised elementary curriculum for arts education in Iran. The study employed an educational criticism method and was conducted in two elementary schools. Data were collected by observation, semi-structured interviews and curriculum documents over a four-month period. The research participants consisted of 12 professionals (teachers, coordinators and principals), and 30 students (8–12 year-olds from different cultural backgrounds). According to the results of this study, the schools’ architecture and environment do not promote creativity, active participation and engagement in the learning process. The general and specific objectives, the content areas, the time allocated to the teaching of each area, teaching methods and assessment procedures have been clearly defined in the official curriculum documents for arts education. Nevertheless, the areas of painting and occasionally handcrafts are the content areas which are taught to students using direct methods of teaching and students’ performance is often evaluated by traditional tests. The study concludes that the current arts curriculum has not been successful, or not as successful as it was intended to be. The most common obstacle to effective arts teaching, however, is the lack of a place for arts within the school programme similar to that of science and mathematics. Lack of enough well-trained teachers with an educational background in arts education is another obstacle that needs to be addressed in future revisions of the curriculum.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12151

Supporting Young Artists in Making Connections: Moving from Mere Recognition to Perceptive Art Experiences (pages 137–148)


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Four young Australian children participated in research in which they shared their photographs and narratives of art experiences in their homes, early childhood centre and school. Drawing on Dewey's theories on art as experience, this article analyses some of the ways these 4- and 5-year-old children enjoyed satisfying art experiences, primarily in their homes, that moved them beyond mere recognition of their physical and graphic worlds to deeper perceptions that connected ideas, emotions, art media and people. Acknowledging and responding to children's perspectives on art experiences prompts pedagogical recommendations including provision of art experiences around children's personally relevant inquiries; introducing new stimuli that build rather than disrupt their explorations; providing children with a sense of purpose and audience for their art and supporting children's agency with regards to accessing art materials and ongoing projects. How structured time promotes or constrains perceptive and satisfying art experiences warrants consideration, as does the promotion of supportive and responsive interpersonal relationships between children and adults.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12187

A Place for Beauty in Art Education (pages 149–162)


VOL 37.1

For the past 100 years beauty has been marginalised in Western art and regarded as a problematic notion in a range of cultural contexts. Art educators tend to associate experiences of beauty with passive appreciation rather than active engagement, while researchers of children's understanding of art characterise references to beauty as evidence of low levels of aesthetic development. This article draws on evidence from a recent study to challenge these assumptions. The study explored how children describe and analyse their perceptions of beauty and how they reflect upon and articulate their experiences of beauty. Fifty-one children in two English primary schools were asked to find and photograph images they thought were beautiful, which they shared and discussed during a series of group interviews. The interviews provided evidence of the diversity of these children's perceptions of beauty, of their awareness of how visual and formal qualities contribute towards the beauty of images and of how their experiences of beauty can be meaningful and relevant to them. The article suggests that children's responses to beauty are not merely passive but often expressive, and that some of their responses to beauty illustrate art educators’ principles of participation, individuality and self-expression. It argues that art educators should reappraise the value of beauty in art education and reflect on its potential for raising children's levels of engagement with the visual world.

DOI: 10.1111/jade.12185