The question of artist teacher partnerships in implementing quality arts education

Year: 2012

Author: Hunter, Mary Ann

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Despite evidence of substantial benefits,1 opportunities for the realization of the 'multiple legitimate purposes of arts education'2 remain limited as debate continues about the rationale for arts learning in the classroom. Teaching for virtuosity or teaching for ideas? These are tired arguments; for even with the Web 2.0-inspired understanding that young people are not just consumers but active producers of culture, old tensions persist among the extremes of instrumentalism, discipline, and unbridled creativity in the arts education encounter.

Using Osberg and Biesta's concept of the 'emergentist' curriculum3 as a touchstone, this paper will consider these issues in the light of a current national initiative to improve young people's access to quality arts education 'on the ground'.  It will report on previously unpublished empirical research on teacher and artist partnerships formed as part of the Australian Government's Artist in Residence Initiative. Based on a commissioned evaluation of the 71 first-phase AIR projects across Australia (2008-2010), this presentation will discuss aspects of the AIR Initiative that both trouble and progress our understanding of arts education at time of major curriculum change.  In particular, the presentation will draw attention to the finding that while most teachers perceived a more positive learning relationship with their students as a result of collaboration with 'third party' artists through AIR projects, some teachers saw artists as a barrier to achieving satisfactory curriculum outcomes.

1 See Bamford, A. (2006) The wow factor: global research compendium on the impact of the arts in education, Berlin: Waxmann Verlag; Bryce, J., Mendelovits, J., Beavis, A., McQueen, J., & Adams, I. (2004) Evaluation of school-based arts education programmes in Australian schools, Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research; Fiske, E. (ed.) (1999) Champions of change: the impact of arts on learning, Washington DC: the arts Education Partnership and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; Deasy, R. (Ed) (2002) Critical links: learning in the arts and student academic and social development, Washington DC: Arts Education Partnership.

2 Seidel, S., Tishman, S., Winner, E., Hetland, L., & Palmer, P. (2009) The qualities of quality: understanding excellence in arts education, Cambridge Massachusetts: Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Wallace Foundation: 17.

3 Osberg, D. & Biesta, G. (2008) The emergent curriculum: navigating a complex course between unguided learning and planned enculturation, Journal of Curriculum Studies 40.3, 313-328.

CHAIR: Christopher Naughton