Developing a Multimedia Resource on Evaluating and Appreciating in Art for Scottish Schools

By Coutts, Glen; Hart, David | Art Education, January 2000 | Go to article overview

Developing a Multimedia Resource on Evaluating and Appreciating in Art for Scottish Schools


Coutts, Glen, Hart, David, Art Education


Any development related to the curriculum must be set within the frames of reference that condition its design. For this reason, we took the guidelines for art and design, contained in the Scottish Guidelines for 5-14 Expressive Arts (SOEID, 1992), as the starting point for our study. A dominant theme of the last decade, in many countries, has been to create national curricula. Art education, in concert with other disciplines, has not escaped this drive. It has been required to define and distil practice within the broader framework mapped out in national models.

In Scotland there are National Guidelines, and in England the National Curriculum OXE, 1995). It is not the purpose of this paper to enter into the philosophical debate surrounding Scottish, UK or other models of curriculum. Rather, we report on how we have taken a pragmatic approach in addressing one aspect of art education as described in the Scottish Guidelines.

The locus of our research has been the place of "Evaluating and Appreciating" as a key constituent of the 5-14 programme in Scotland. In particular, we consider the topic at Level E in the model described in the National Guidelines (SOEID, 1992).

As an aid to understanding the Scottish structure relative to that of the National Curriculum, we offer, as Table 1, a simple "relational map." It reveals parallel structural imperatives, though the two systems use different nomenclature.

TEACHING EVALUATION AND APPRECIATION,-AGES-5-14

Evaluating and Appreciating is one of the three "Attainment Outcomes" in Scotland, but what is meant by Evaluating and Appreciating? What are the implications of this activity for the specialist in secondary (high) school and for the generalist in the primary (elementary) school?

Ihe Scottish Guidelines require teachers to engage pupils in reflecting and responding in addition to doing and making art. This requirement, for many generalists in primary schools, is somewhat daunting. The document states that Evaluating and Appreciating "is concerned with active reflection, where pupils are encouraged to look in order to see,... so as to make their own judgments and choices more informed."

In the same section, which introduces each strand, the document continues:

"Pupils frequently evaluate their own work and that of others, including artists and professionals, in ways which vary from an immediate response to considered critical analysis" (SOEID, 1992,p.6). During our pilot study, teachers found that pupils were indeed quite sophisticated in their responses.

The study by Clement (1993) found that many primary teachers in England felt ill prepared to teach "Knowledge and Understanding" in art. When the study asked teachers to identify in-service needs, teachers cited the following:

Using works of art to support and inform children's practical work (42%)

Teaching children about the work of artists' crafts workers and designers (46%)

Evaluating children's progress in their work in art and design (46%). (Clement, 1993, p. 38)

Although the Clement report was based on research carried out in England, our study suggests the picture is similar in Scotland.

The area known as "Critical Studies" (Critical Activity in Scotland) has attracted a great deal of attention over the past 20 years. In recent years, several writers have examined this area, including Clement and Page (1992), Robinson, et. a]. (1990b, c, d), Taylor (1986) and Palmer (1989).

The notion of engaging children in the "why" of art in addition to the "how" is slowly taking root in Scottish primary schools. "Doing and Making"is, as suggested by Robinson (1990a, p. 50), enhanced and supported by "Responding and Evaluating."

A key problem for many teachers, particularly those in primary schools, can be a lack of confidence and access to works of art or high quality reproductions. An additional factor in Scotland is the relative lack of specialist support in primary schools, where there are very few visiting art specialists.

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