Mandating the Art Curriculum

B. Allison
1981, Vol. 14, No. 1,

Abstract


The diversities in our educational provision are probably best exmplified in that wide range of activities labelled art, craft and design. The variations in practices, interpretations, roles and goals in these subjects are enormous. A major underlying factor is the idiosyncratic individuality attributed to professional practitioners in these areas. Qualities of originality, inventiveness and, essentially, being different are taken as the model not only for what a teacher chooses to teach but also for all aspects of the teaching task. 'To be different' is seemingly a prime consideration in the choice of subject matter, teaching methods, room organisation, exhibitions of work and so on. There are even instances when defined objectives have been phrased differently in order to make them seem original.

One of the outcomes of this situation is that there is, at present, considerable variation (I choose the word variation rather than confusion) between art teachers regarding what they take to be their aims; whether or not they regard their pupils' or students' activities as being self-expressive, creative, problem solving, learning, specialist and so on; whether or not they feel art work should be assessed and on what criteria. Within the present tolerance of the educational system this is a totally permissable state of affairs. In any case, experience has shown that teachers have an amazing capacity to interpret or rationalise any proposed directive in such a way as to require the least amount of change in what they are already doing. The particular ways teachers have acquired their knowledge and attitudes, developed their own skills, and equipped and organised their facilities constitute an investment of often long experience and form, without doubt, a substantial buttress and defence against externally generated change.


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