Can I use arts on my practicum?: Pre-service teachers' insights into teaching the arts in the middle years

Year: 2009

Author: Garvis, Susanne

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In Australia, generalist middle years teachers (years 4-9) are responsible for the delivery of arts education to their students. Research suggests however, that in-service and pre-service teachers express a lack of belief in their ability to teach the arts. This is attributed to lack of confidence by teachers (Hennessy, 2000; Jeanneret, 1997; Russell, 1995) and previous background experiences in the arts (Rusell-Bowie & Dowson, 2005). Subsequently, arts education is not taught consistently or well.

Beliefs about one's capability to teach the arts are developed during the beginning phase of teaching and once developed, according to self-efficacy theory, are resistant to change (Bandura, 2006a). The beginning phase includes teacher training, practicum experiences and the beginning years of teaching. This paper will focus on examining the beliefs of beginning teachers during their practicum experience in teacher education.

During 2008, I collected 201 short surveys from beginning teachers, describing their positive and negative experiences of teaching arts during their practicum. Results suggest that as pre-service teachers interacted with their schooling context, they did not have opportunities to experience the teaching of the arts. Beginning teachers also spoke of few opportunities to view the modelling of suitable arts education by supervising teachers. According to self-efficacy theory, these negative experiences will regulate the future thoughts, feelings and perceptions of competence of the beginning teacher towards the arts. Findings hold key implications for the long term teaching and sustainability of arts education by generalist teachers in schools. It identifies areas of need and development to be addressed through policy and practice in teacher education.