Practising teaching: Understanding ‘what works’ in time-space

Year: 2016

Author: Mathewson Mitchell, Donna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research in visual arts education is often focused on philosophical issues or broad concerns related to approaches to curriculum. However, if we are to truly understand ‘what works’ in visual arts education, acknowledgement of the complexity of teaching is required along with systematic studies of teaching that engage with practitioners over time and across instances (Loughran, 2006). In focusing on the everyday work of visual arts teaching, this presentation addresses a gap in the literature to report on collaborative research exploring the experiences and artistry of secondary visual arts teachers located in regional New South Wales, Australia. A practice-theoretical framework informed this research providing a lens for investigating teaching as a professional practice that develops over time (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1980, 1986, 2004) and in relation to time-space (Schatzki, 2002; Reid & Mathewson Mitchell, 2015). Drawing on qualitative data gathered through participatory action research and a process of educational connoisseurship and educational criticism (Eisner, 2002), discussion focuses on visual arts teaching as a particular professional practice that is complex, intricate, emergent and adaptive. In drawing on data from this study, key themes are identified to explore: the collaborative research experience; the aims and interests of visual arts teachers; the ‘core practices’ (Grossman & McDonald, 2008; Grossman, Hammerness & McDonald, 2009) of visual arts teaching; the characteristics of visual arts teachers; and the performativity of curriculum. The presentation concludes by raising issues for further consideration and research in the context of teaching and teacher education. References:Eisner, E.W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. Harrisonburg, Virginia: Yale University Press.Dreyfus, H.L., & Dreyfus, S.E. (1980). A five stage model of the mental activities involved in directed skill acquisition [Monograph]. California University Berkely Operations Research Center. Retrieved from Defense Technical Information Center website:, P & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future: Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal. 45(1), 184-205.Grossman, P.L, Hammerness, K.& McDonald, M. (2009). Redefining teaching, reimagining teacher education. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15(2), 273-289.Loughran, J. (2006). Developing a pedagogy of teacher education: Understanding teaching and learning about teaching. London: Routledge.Reid, J. & Mathewson- Mitchell, D. (2015). Inhabiting a Teaching Body: Portraits of Teaching, in B. Green & N. Hopwood [Eds.], The Body in Professional Practice, Learning and Education: Body/Practice. Switzerland: Springer. Pp. 89-104.