Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Towards an Integrated Approach to Arts Curriculum and Pedagogy

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Towards an Integrated Approach to Arts Curriculum and Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Arts are generally praised for their intrinsic educational value, as well as for their instrumental value for learning in many areas and aspects of life and the world in general (McCarthy, Ondaatje, Zakaras, & Brooks, 2004). Consequentially, arts are called to inspire production of new resources and solutions for learning and development in both formal and informal educational settings.

The argument most frequently advanced in support of this rather novel way of positioning the arts in education evokes the arts' capacity to facilitate a way of constructing and experiencing knowledge that is rewarding in that it engages participants imaginatively, emotionally, volitionally and cognitively, whilst impacting both individuals and communities aesthetically and culturally.

Still, in the vast majority of approaches to planning and delivering the school curricula, arts are barely making it in the time-table, often strategized to simply provide adjuvant opportunities for learning, instrumental to performance in other school disciplines - namely those enjoying circumstantial, privileged statuses in the curriculum. This is particularly the case in the Western educational cultures measuring quality by standards and success by hierarchies of tested academic performances solely in the areas of knowledge included in the national and international academic examinations, such as the Baccalaureate in Romania, or PISA, and TIMSS etc., internationally.

Revitalizing arts' potential for creative, imaginative learning actions, and noted positive social impact is ranking increasingly high in the discourses of educationalists all over the world, emphasizing its' resourcefulness and relevance for the social, cultural and economical requirements of a world working its way through globalization.

The modem age of formal education has reluctantly looked past cognitivist and behaviourist stances on learning and development, generally structuring school based learning on notions of transfer and schema and on measurements and predictions of academic performance, placing the arts at the margins of curriculum approaches. In the post-industrial age the arts and education have regarded each other with suspicion notes Ewing (2010), a fact explained by O'Toole (2010, apud. Ewing, 2010) with several specific arguments. His arguments are introduced here with comments on how the Romanian practices of planning and delivering mainstream school curriculum in the past century seem to generally reflect strikingly resembling probable causes to the effect:

* the perception that arts are a form of elitism, accessible only to selected few and heavily relying on their level of formal education directly assumed to relate to arts' consumers and artists' ability to apprehend arts. In the Romanian educational setting, arts are marginalized in the mainstream curriculum (with less coverage on the school time-table in the later age of mainstream education), an arts-intensive curriculum being afforded via vocational education. This arrangement is prompting a very explicit stance on arts learning, that of arts being reserved to those who are talented and/or willing to professionally or academically play a part in the arts, by pursuing further, higher education routes in the arts, and thus attempting the specialist status. This type of either/or approach to school curriculum and school based learning prompts an elitist pedagogical stance on arts and arts education.

* the misconceptions or baggage from their own prior arts experiences that many teachers have, along with other relevant decision-makers in the educational setting (i.e. parents). The memory of recent half-century long communist history is still very rich in vivid examples of censorship and politicized approaches to participation to arts. There are two main art forms represented in the Romanian mainstream school curriculum - Music and Drawing. Of the two, Music has historically notoriously been detoured from its educational purposes as a school subject-matter during Communism, to serve as ideologically imbued platform for indoctrination, by prompting learning contents with a political agenda (i. …

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