The Development of a Professional Association of Art Teachers - The struggle to achieve professional identity and status
AbstractDuring recent years, there has been an increase in the number of publications devoted to the development of art educationl, but in these studies, little attE;ntion has been given to the part played by teacher organisations. Stuart Macdonald, for example, spares only a few lines for the National Society for Art Educatron2. In this article (which may be read as a sequel to the previously published study of the art master in the nineteenth century3) the-development of the Society of Art Masters -latN"; the National Society of Art Masters and eventually the National Society of Art EduGation - is examined.
T. H. S. Escott, writing nearly a century ago, stated: ";The professions in England are valued according to their stability, their remunerativeness, their influence, and their recognition by the state; i.e. their respectability"; .4 Although 'artist' is included in the 1881 census' list of-professions, Reader has pointed out that this particular category was seen as unreliable, as many within it coulq. be set no formal academic qualifications, and artists as a class were low in public estimationS they were not altogether 'respectable'.
The Art Master, anxious about his status, was therefore unlikely to wish to identify himself with the independent artist. He could at least boast that he held paper qualifications, for he would normally possess the Art Master's Certificate (3rd Grade) of the Department of Science and Art. Drawing, however, was seen as either a technical skill or as an accomplishment, and neither of these gave it the status of an intellectual activity, but the Art Master, by regulation if not altogether in practice, was teaching artisans of inferior social status to his own, so this was some compensation. It was in this capacity that the Department of Science and Art viewed them as instructors, and not as artists, but among the art masters, there was some ambivalence as to their proper self image.