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The Place of Visual Arts in Education Liz Ashworth, Faculty of Education, Nipissing University
Why bother learning about visual arts’ place in education? • There is a strong “back-to-basics” movement in politics and school boards everywhere • Rarely do non-artists take art seriously • Money is usually cut from arts programs first • Someday, you may have to protect your program from extinction • Knowing the history is power for you
Art Education in Ontario • Pre-public education, apprenticeships were common • Artistically-talented often waited until adulthood to take formal art courses (usually for rich only) • In 1840s, public education introduced in Ontario by Egerton Ryerson • Art included in technical training only
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • Ryerson divided curriculum into three subject areas: “Cardinal”, “Required”, and “Other” • Only boys studied “Cardinal” subjects (Greek and Roman culture) • All students studied “Required” subjects (Math, Philosophy, History, Geography, English)
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • “Other” subjects (boys) - Bookkeeping, Commercial Math, Technical Drawing • “Other” subjects (girls) - Music, Dancing, French, Fancy Needlework, Drawing, Painting • This model lasted for a decade, until it was replaced by Britain’s South Kensington Model of Education
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • 1850s – government created the Department of Science and Art • Formed to aid and control art schools and exams, supervise and train art teachers • Main goals – sharpen industrial design skills, provide instruction in decorative arts, train drawing teachers for private and public schools • This model continued until after WW2
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • Post WW2 – technical and academic schools merged to form secondary schools • 1970s – more academic approach to teaching art; schools of the arts formed • Art curriculum left mostly to individual teachers and based on their areas of expertise • Much pressure from post-secondary institutions to streamline art curriculum
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • 1986 – OSIS art education document introduced • Very prescriptive (strict percentages of time for design, studio, art history, criticism) • OAC course worked out to 50% studio and 50% art history; with inclusion of final exam, course content was 70% knowledge about art but only 30% knowledge of creating art
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • 1990s – art programs threatened by “back-to-basics” movement • Money cut, art viewed as a non-essential “frill” • Some schools cut out one or more level of instruction (Basic, General, Advanced) or cut out art entirely • 1997 – government looked at replacing art teachers with non-certified instructors
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • 2000 – OSS documents introduced • Art instruction levels changed to Open and University/College entrance • Expectations more vague than 1986 document; used strands (theory, creation, analysis) and no percentages • Provided for mandatory cumulative art curriculum from K-12
Art Education in Ontario, cont’d… • Visual arts programs now threatened by new rigorous graduation requirements and demise of OAC (less room for “optional” subjects in timetable) • Students need only one arts credit to graduate; could be art, music, drama, or dance • New bridges between art and technology • Design education and creative problem-solving skills across the curriculum
What Can You Do? • Market your program well to intermediate students • Become an art education activist among staff, community, government • Become aware of proposed Ministry of Education changes to art education policies • Be prepared for at least one major art curriculum change in your career (usually change every 15 years)
References Clark, R. (1994). Art Education: A Canadian Perspective. Toronto: OSEA. Gidney, R.D. (1999). From Hope to Harris: the reshaping of Ontario’s schools. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Gidney, R.D. (1990). Inventing Secondary Education: the rise of the high school in nineteenth-century Ontario. Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.