One has to wonder where education in Australia is headed… Discussions continue in the staffroom about what is going to happen to Art when the National Curriculum is implemented. I have been reviewing the ACARA website that discusses the implementation and proposed outlines for subjects such as English, Maths, Science and History. The ‘Arts’ are due to have the curriuculm revised in the second phase of implementation.
From a colleague who went to a conference conducted by VADEA, the concerns seem to lie in the fact that only 20 minutes per week in the new curriculum for Year 7 and 8 will be devoted to Art.
I have searched and searched the ACARA website for information to this vein and have had no luck. Is there something they are not telling us??? Is it only the curriculm bodies that are being informed of these major draw backs for subjects such as Visual Art. As a member of the public, parents and students are encouraged to review the new proposals and have their say. Feedback can be left on the website at anytime as long as you log in and register. But not all subjects are there to review yet.
The National Curriculum is based upon documents such as The MelbourneDeclaration on Educational Goals For Young Australians. There are some interesting statements that are made in this document that are things that all teachers should aspire to in their practice.
Schools play a vital role in promoting the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development and wellbeing of young Australians, in ensuring the nation’s ongoing economic prosperity and social cohesion.
Literacy and numeracy and knowledge of key disciplines remain the cornerstone of schooling for young Australians. Schooling should also support the development of skills in areas such as social interaction, crossdisciplinary thinking and the use of digital media, which are essential in all 21st century occupations. As well as knowledge and skills, a school’s legacy to young people should include national values of democracy, equity and justice, and personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience and respect for others.
While Visual Arts may not be as quantitative as Science or Maths, it does provide the learner with access to their world via visual literacy, communiction and deep analytical skills.
One consulation document from arteducation.org states:
NAAE’s long-term aspiration is for all young Australians to have access to sequential and continuous learning in each artform. However, in order to offer flexibility and a realistic approach, and recognising the challenges of the crowded curriculum and implications of teacher expertise, the NAAE recommends the following for this next important phase of curriculum development in arts education:
(a) Primary and secondary students should have sequential and continuous learning provisions in at least one artform from the field of Performing Arts (Dance, Drama, Music) and one artform from the field of the Visual Arts (Visual Arts, Media), selected by the school, i.e. at least two art forms will be chosen for continuous and sequential learning as a minimum for arts learning.
(b) This will enable students to demonstrate achievement, progression and development in content (skills, knowledge, understanding) identified for at least two artforms. Teachers should report on student achievement within the school’s chosen two artforms.
(c) This approach will facilitate choice for schools, taking account of staffing, resources,community interests and provision. It will also support a ‘whole school’ approach to build strengths, expertise and the capacity to implement arts curriculum.
(d) The first years of schooling should build on the Early Years Learning Framework to provide a broad and interrelated approach to the arts that acknowledges the richness this can bring to young learners.
(e) Throughout the primary years, in addition to the two selected artforms, students should also have rich learning experiences in the remaining three artforms, with schools reporting achievement in these artforms in less formal ways.
(f) In the secondary years, at least two artforms, one from the Performing Arts and one from the Visual Arts, should be offered in sequential and continuous courses. Provision should also be made for the remaining three artforms, enabling students to exercise choice.
(g) In the senior years, it is desirable that schools offer courses in all five artforms and for students to be able to specialise in the artforms of their choice.
Another independent organisation (Music Council of Australia) writes:
The “Melbourne Declaration” was promulgated by all Australian education ministers after a meeting of MCEETYA in December 2008. It listed the arts as subjects that should be offered in all Australian curricula. It classified the arts as Performing Arts (dance, drama, music) and Visual Arts (visual art and design, media) and says that all students should receive an education in the performing and visual arts. This statement is extremely important because it is a formal commitment to arts education by the education ministers at a time when the arts had not been included in the National Curriculum and had been intentionally omitted as core subjects in a manifesto issued by the Australian Primary Principals Association.
While I acknowledge that all students who leave my classroom are not going to be artists, I do feel that they gain skills in visual literacy, analysis and numerous methods of communication. Aspects of creative thinking, collaboration, literacy, numeracy and ICT can all be taught using Visual Arts as a subject that actually promotes deep thinking and is a subject which provides students with significance to their world. It is a form of self expression and it would be archaic to remove art education from the learning of young children. The enlightenment provided a time when it was realised that Art fits in with Sciences and Language, so why now in a 21st Century society would we take it away? The way I see it, I am a holistic teacher who applies many aspects of cross-curriculum skills to my style of teaching Visual Arts. I would like to think that I have equipped them with the skills to observe and comment on their world.