How Do Novice Art Teachers Define and Implement Meaningful Curriculum?
Bain, Christina, Newton, Connie, Kuster, Deborah, Milbrandt, Melody, Studies in Art Education
Four researchers collaborated on this qualitative case study that examined 11 first-year novice art teachers' understanding and implementation of meaningful curriculum. Participants were selected through a criterion method sampling strategy; the subjects were employed in rural, urban, and suburban public school districts. In order to conduct a cross-site analysis of the results of the study, researchers conducted three to four structured interviews during the academic year. Results indicate that the novice teachers' definitions and implementation of meaningful curriculum emphasized connecting art lessons to students' lives and culture. Novice teachers were concerned about the quality of artwork their students produced and were committed to building trust with their students.
The process of teacher education is complex and daunting as universities grapple with the task of preparing teachers during a time of increasing national and state level demands influenced by numerous mandates and reform movements (Brewer, 2006). One of the many competency requirements for future art teachers is designing and implementing curriculum (Galbraith, 1997). Wiggins and Melighe (2005) contend that effective curricula must be designed for understanding; while knowledge teaches us facts, understanding goes deeper in discovering the meaning of the facts.
In the field of curriculum, Paulo Freire (1970) emphasized the connection between critical education and social change in which learners must actively make connections between their world and what is learned. Freire described several characteristics of meaningful thematlcs: they are driven by human expression, aspirations, and their relations with the world; these human aspirations "do not exist out there somewhere as static entities; they are occurring" (p 107); thematic investigation is striving towards awareness of reality and towards self-awareness; to investigate a theme is to investigate people's thinking about reality and their reaction to reality, aspirations, motives, and objectives that are human in nature; and finally, that the process should include a concern for links between themes. Henry Glroux(1983) underscored that curriculum Is not merely the acquisition of skills, but rather the focus is on issues of power and values that matter to members of a global community.
Certainly within this scaffolding, postmodernism has exerted considerable influence on the curriculum: social and cultural theory about identity and the relationship between power and knowledge, art as cultural production, multiculturalism, and temporal and special flux (Efland, Freedman, & Stuhr, 1996). For more than two decades, curriculum approaches have reflected a postmodern shift in art education to move away from a particular curriculum theory to a plurality of approaches that are more student-centered in a social context (Ballengee-Morris & Stuhr, 2001; Banks, 1993; Campbell, 2005; Clark, 1996; Dunn, 1995; Efland, 2004; Garber, 2004; Guay, 1994; Guilfoll & Sandler, 1999; Jones, 1997; Saunders, 1998). Likewise, in the field of art education, Anderson and Milbrandt (2005) and Walker (2001) explained how meaning could be developed through thematic inquiry. Stewart and Walker (2005) looked at the curriculum in context and offered a multitude of examples of big and enduring ideas as organizers of curricular units. Likewise, Taylor, Carpenter, Ballengee-Morris, and Sessions (2006) examined interdisciplinary approaches to artmaking, including integrating visual culture as well as forging connections to local and global communities through servicelearning. Gaudelius and Speirs (2002) discussed how a variety of perspectives ranging from feminism to popular culture serve to frame issue based art curricula. Gude (2007) drew upon issues within her local community in creating curriculum for the Spiral Workshop at the University of Illinois. On the other hand, Bolin, Blandy, and Congdon (2000) considered how stories that focus on underrepresented or little known people and cultures could shape artmaking as well as curricular choices. …