Understanding Art Education: Engaging Reflexively with Practice

By Nicholas Addison; Lesley Burgess et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Critical pedagogy

Nicholas Addison

No tradition should ever be seen as received, because when it is received it
becomes sacred, its terms suggest reverence, silence, and passivity. Democratic
societies are noisy. They’re about traditions that need to be critically reevalu-
ated by each generation.

(Giroux 1992: 156)


Introduction

This book has been promoting the idea that art education can be both creative and critical, an education of possibility through which individual students learn within a community of practice. Such communities are not necessarily harbours of contentment, continuity and consensus, but energetic places in which purposeful action is fuelled by enquiry and debate. There is a danger that creative aims can be subsumed within liberal, apolitical models where education becomes a competitive process of self-actualisation or indeed where they are paraded as rhetorical devices disguising a programme primarily designed to secure a viable workforce. As Cochrane et al. (2008) analyse:

The discourse at the core of the NACCCE report (1999) suggesting creativ-
ity is an essential capacity for preparation for the complexities and challenges
of twenty-first century living, the pace of change and a range of employment
beyond the creative industries per se does not appear in the Children’s Plan
(2007). Instead it is replaced by a functional view of creativity largely as
preparation for employment in the creative industries’.

(p. 35)

Therefore, it would be useful to consider how a creative and critical education is different to such individualistic or instrumental models, one that contributes to the participatory aims of democracy. To facilitate this, I wish to propose two questions: What does critical pedagogy offer an education for democracy? How

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