Communities matter: Developing confidence amongst art educators
A project launched last week highlights the role of cultural centres in the professional development of teachers across a range of disciplines, including visual art.
Launched at Pataka Museum of Arts and Culture in Porirua, the project, Community engagement enhances confidence in teaching visual art,supported a group of 12 pre-registered art teachers in the Wellington region to work with community art experts over a 2 year period. The research was undertaken by Ian Bowell of Victoria University of Wellington and was funded through the Ako Aotearoa's National Project Fund.
The motivation for this project came from knowledge that teaching of visual art in primary schools is under threat from a lack of professional teacher support. Historically, the importance placed on visual art in primary schools has been reflected in the time allocated to the training of primary school teachers in the teaching of visual art, and in the support available to primary school teachers from the Schools Advisory Service. Today, visual art time allocations for pre‐service courses have been reduced and the visual art advisory service for primary schools no longer exists.
Therefore, the main objective of this project was to enable these teachers to develop their confidence in the teaching of visual art by using visual art expertise found within the community. Across a series of 8 workshops, teachers explored how they can use art more effectively in the classroom. The impact of this on teacher’s confidence in teaching visual art was measured using survey data, interviews and focus groups.
Results showed that:
- Developing confidence in teaching visual art requires hands‐on experience in visual art activities.
- Effective communities of practice encourage reflection about visual art teaching practice and enhance expertise.
- Visual art supports the teaching of other curriculum areas.
- Visual art in the classroom helps to develop children’s creativity.
Principals, workshop attendees and members of the Victoria School of Education joined Ako Aotearoa at the launch celebration to hear Ian give an overview of the project’s key findings and the positive impact of the programme on the trainee teachers involved. This was followed by teachers sharing their stories about how the workshops gave them confidence to try new things in the classroom, helped them develop a community of experts around them, and become leaders in their own school environments.
Ian is currently in London where he is visiting a range of museums to explore the possibility of establishing similar initiatives. Ongoing work with the existing community of experts in New Zealand is also being explored. The report will be of interest to art educators, teacher trainers and educators, cultural centres and artists, and senior managers and leaders in education.
Visit the project page to download the full report and find examples of the artwork developed during the project.