Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Attitude towards Artwork in the Israeli Kindergarten and the Reproduction of Social Status

Academic journal article Studies in Art Education

Attitude towards Artwork in the Israeli Kindergarten and the Reproduction of Social Status

Article excerpt

This research focuses on the attitudes towards fine art learning of kindergarten teachers, children, and parents. The term "attitude" in this study refers to the approach, world view, or "way of thinking" (Hornby & Ruse, 1978) of the different participants in the kindergarten experience. The topic of the study is the connection between artwork in the Israeli kindergarten and the reproduction of social status. The aim of the research is to examine how kindergartens in Israel participate in reproducing the social status quo through the art activities carried out in kindergartens catering to children ages 5 to 6. The questions posed by the research are as follows: 1) What are the different approaches to artwork in the personal philosophy of individual kindergarten teachers, parents, and children? 2) How do these approaches reproduce the social status?

The research focuses on the "fine arts" (Duncum, 2002: Efland, 2004), which can be considered a visual manifestation of culture (Freedman, 1997) while at the same time having close connections to social studies (Manifold, 1995). In these Israeli schools, artwork activity occupies a special time (every morning for an hour to an hour and a half) and physical space in the kindergarten (Corsaro, 2003), and is a fundamental activity there. The artwork activities in this study include: painting, drawing, use of dough and clay, collage, and assemblage. Terms such as "artwork activities," "creative activities," "creative area," "creative tables," "creative work," are all part of the jargon used today in the Israeli kindergarten. In this study we will examine the opinions of teachers, parents and children with respect to artwork in the kindergarten by means of semi-structured interviews, and we will see how these opinions assist in the reproduction of the social status of the families that the children belong to. A survey of the literature includes research that discusses esthetic codes. The theories of social class reproduction that will be discussed will assist us to understand how the world view towards artwork of the kindergarten teachers, the parents and the children in the kindergarten helps reproduce the social status.

Esthetic codes

The term "aesthetic codes" comes from Rosario and Collazo (1981), who looked at the kind of children's artwork valued by teachers in the daily experiences of two American kindergartens (children ages 3.9 to 5.4 years old). They perceived two esthetic codes. The first is the re-constructive code, in which the children's esthetic experiences are guided by well-defined criteria fixed by the teacher. The teacher is the direct molder of the child's artistic expression. Accessibility of material is strictly controlled. The children's artwork must resemble, as far as possible, external modes and criteria. The researchers found this type of guidance in collage activities using paper and paste.

The second esthetic code is the creative code, in which the children's esthetic experiences are regulated by (the children's) individual criteria. This is the transferal code, which defines the teacher's role as facilitator or bolsterer of the child's creative activity and self-expression. Materials are made easily accessible to the child. The teacher is there to elicit from the child or to induce him to try his individual esthetic criteria to create or evaluate other works of art.

Research conducted over time in kindergartens and schools found different esthetic codes: some studies point to the re-constructive code (see Aune, 2005; Colbert, 1984; Olson, 2003; Rosario & Collazo, 1981; Susi, 2002; Tarr, 2001; Taunton, 1987). Other studies found the creative code (see Hafeli, 2000; Hendrick, 1998; Howes & Ritchie, 2002; James, 1997; Makin, White & Owen, 1996; Milbrandt, 2002). The existence of bodi approaches-sometimes within the same kindergarten or school-can also be found in the literature (see Edwards, Gandini & Forman, 1993; Gandini, 1997; Grauer, 1998; Toren, 2004). …

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