Building our capacities to go deeper about quality arts education: engaging with praxis through dialogue

Year: 2016

Author: Burke, Geraldine, Grenfell, Jenny, Hannigan, Shelley, Selkrig, Mark, Wright, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Whilst curriculum guidelines provide important frameworks for what needs to be taught in visual art education, each educator has to autonomously determine how to provide quality arts experiences for students. As visual arts educators, it is often difficult to articulate what we consider to be quality praxis (Freire, 1972). In this paper we interrogate the meaning of quality visual arts praxis, through four lenses: Learning, Pedagogy, Community dynamics and Environment (L-PEC) (adapted from Seidel et al, 2009). The methodology evolved as a bricolage (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005) where potentially disparate sets of events and ideas were woven together. It merged aspects of participatory action research (Kemmis & McTaggart, 1988), narrative inquiry (Chase, 2005) and case study (Stake, 1995) involving the authors of this paper (who are from four different universities in Melbourne, Australia). Descriptive reflections emerged through structured conversations by using a protocol where both individual stories and group dialogue occurred. As a result, we were able to tease out how the four L-PEC lenses support and inform our own and pre-service/teachers work as visual arts educators. The narratives we present illustrate the potential of the L-PEC framework as a professional learning tool, for those who teach visual arts education. L-PEC provided us with a common vocabulary in a complex field to discuss the underpinnings of quality visual arts praxis. We were able to articulate our tacit knowledge and be more conscious of how L-PEC principles are embedded within our everyday teaching experiences – the minutiae of events became more conscious to us. The process allowed us to theorise our experience and provided us with a desire to awaken others’ awareness of the transformative process to deeply engage with the L-PEC framework. Unpacking our work through L-PEC highlighted our own philosophies of art education praxis, which we now articulate with other professionals in the field. We make our arts praxis visible and encourage other arts educators to engage in discourse about quality art education.