Multiculturalism in arts education: Engaging schools in effective and authentic pedagogies

Year: 2006

Author: Joseph, Dawn, Southcott, Jane

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Serious questions have been raised by arts educators and community members about the effectiveness of multiculturalism that is usually enacted in Australian school settings by multi-arts festivals and related classroom activities. By exploring resources available to teachers, snapshots can be created of school practices that purport to be multicultural. Often these are only thematically integrated interdisciplinary exercises that do not reflect the complexity and diversity of true multiculturalism. Australia has for some time positioned itself as part of the global community. How this has been enacted in schools' multi-arts practices demonstrates our changing understanding of multiculturalism. The recent Australian National Review of School Music Education (2005) exhorts us to recognise cultural diversity, encourage participation and engagement and form partnerships, connections and networks. To achieve this we need to demonstrate authentic practice. Tucker (1992) has created an authenticity checklist that argues that materials should be prepared with the involvement of someone within the culture and include cultural context. Without this, we risk stripping the arts of much of its meaning. The authors contend that it should be possible in 21st century Australia to create authentic, meaningful arts education practices in schools given the rich cultural mosaic that forms our contemporary society.