Review by Suzy Tutchell, course leader and lecturer, University of Reading
Teaching Primary Art & Design by Susan Ogier
Susan Ogier’s excellent new book Teaching Primary Art & Design is about subject knowledge and outstanding practice in teaching art and design in the primary school. In recent years there has been a dearth of books such as this, which explore and celebrate the principles, values and enormous opportunities that exist in the world of art and design education. This book examines such aspects and is a handbook for all those who are passionate about ensuring there is a secure, effective and vibrant place for art and design in our classrooms of today, for our children of today.
The book’s aim is to give the reader, particularly those new to primary teaching, the confidence to enjoy teaching art and design, and to open the world to children about the joys of learning creatively through visual means. But the book offers more than this, as it dedicates itself to opening up the art world to teachers, both new and experienced, offering them a secure justification for the place and teaching of art in the primary classroom. It importantly raises cultural and educational awareness to bring change for a greater good.
The book is designed and written to be approachable, functional and inspirational. It delivers a lot of content in a well-structured format that allows the reader to consider and reflect on their own practice within each section. There is an excellent balance of text and illustrations, which sustain and complement interest and understanding. Of particular note are the pictures that capture the excitement and vitality of student teachers in practice, illustrating the wonderment and curiosity of teaching and learning when involved in this rich and diverse subject.
Importantly, Teaching Primary Art & Design acknowledges the changing dynamics of the educational world, underpinning the stumbling blocks of government legislation, influential reports which have either strengthened the case of art and design or weakened its existence in schools. The answer and antidote to the ‘weakened’ art curriculum exists within the book, continually giving the reader the justification and understanding to challenge and strengthen art and design as a subject.
The book’s opening chapter relating to principles and values ensures the subject exists, from the outset, as a recognised valued subject, allowing the reader to situate their own personal values in relation to art and design, and setting high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils. This message is echoed continually throughout the Teaching Primary Art & Design, elevating this subject to the place it should be at; that is, in amongst the current ‘core’ subjects which dominate our primary curriculum.
The cross-curricular chapters are a delight, as they not only illustrate how effectively all subjects are intertwined and so can be taught and learnt in a contextual style, but they also celebrate some truly wonderful and highly creative case studies. These chapters contain some inspirational and accessible examples of how our classrooms can light up and intrigue the children we teach. They capture a wide range of exciting and real-life opportunities that will really broaden perceptions of how art can be taught through links with other subjects.
I would recommend this book to all involved in art and design education, but particularly it is for those new to the profession, those teachers who are making the journey into the primary classroom. This is a rich resource for them to better understand the scope of responsibility we have as educators in shaping the future of creative learning and teaching of art and design. I would urge all those involved in the teaching of this subject to make good use of this book and, in doing so, ensure the author’s passion remains influential in developing an ongoing generation of effective, inspiring and dynamic primary school art teachers
Review by Suzy Tutchell
Art course leader and lecturer in art and design
University of Reading
Published by Sage Publications Ltd (2017)