Representations of Working in Arts Education: Stories of Learning and Teaching

Representations of Working in Arts Education: Stories of Learning and Teaching


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Representations of Working in Arts Education: Stories of Learning and Teaching by Narelle Lemon, Susanne Garvis, Christopher Klopper

Arts education provides students with opportunities to build knowledge and skills in self-expression, imagination, creative and collaborative problem solving, and creation of shared meanings. Engagement in arts education has also been said to positively affect overall academic achievement, and the development of empathy. This book provides key insights from stakeholders across the teaching and learning spectrum and offers examples of pedagogical practice to those interested in facilitating arts education.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783201877
Publisher: Intellect, Limited
Publication date: 12/15/2014
Pages: 185
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Narelle Lemon is a senior lecturer at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Susanne Garvis is a senior lecturer at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. Christopher Klopper is director of postgraduate studies and higher degree research at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.

Read an Excerpt

Representations of Working in Arts Education

Stories of Learning and Teaching

By Narelle Lemon, Susanne Garvis, Christopher Klopper

Intellect Ltd

Copyright © 2014 Intellect Ltd
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78320-262-1


Listening to Stories: A Framework and Introduction to Why It Is Important to Really Hear What Happens in Arts Education

Narelle Lemon, Susanne Garvis and Christopher Klopper

Arts education ideally provides students with valuable opportunities to experience and build skills and knowledge in relation to self-expression, imagination, innovative and collaborative problem solving, co-creation of shared meanings and respect for self and others. This is what Eisner (2003) calls 'literacy of the heart' Engagement in a quality arts education programme can positively affect overall academic achievement, engagement in learning and development of empathy towards others (Australian Council for Educational Research 2004; Board of Studies NSW 2006; Cornett 2007; Russell-Bowie 2006).

The teaching and integration of the arts in education is an internationally recognized form of interdisciplinarity that organizes the curriculum in integrated, humane and imaginative ways (Aaron 1994; Barrett 2001; Burton 2001; Chyrsostomou 2004; Hauptfleisch 1997; Klopper 2004; Russell-Bowie 2006, 2009; Snyder 2001). Through the integration of the arts in learning opportunities it is believed that young people can explore creativity, imagination and problem solving while connecting arts-specific experiences to meaning making in other contextual areas. The arts are seen to encompass different things in different contexts including, but not limited to, the performing arts (music, dance, drama and theatre) and visual arts, media, industrial arts and literacy arts. This book sets out to open up discussion and listen to the voice of arts educators, students, parents, school leaders and arts practitioners from the industry engaged in arts education. In presenting detailed and rich narratives throughout, the book invites the reader to reflect, connect and question the place of arts education and indeed the impact on individuals involved. The context of Australia is presented, with the reader invited to consider how the narratives resonate to international perspectives because it is believed lived experiences assist in making connections to one's own understandings.

Throughout Australia, music, dance, drama, media and visual arts have been merged into the Arts Learning Area (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] 2011a). This transfers to the generalist teacher being predominately responsible for teaching arts education in the majority of Australian primary school classrooms (Alter et al. 2009; Davis 2008). Alexander et al. (cited in Alter et al. 2009) projected that teaching the primary education curriculum is 'a far too demanding expectation of a generalist teacher's subject-knowledge' (18) and that often arts education is the subject that suffers most of all. Generalist teachers have been perceived both by themselves and others as lacking the experience, training and subject knowledge to teach arts education effectively (Alter et al. 2009). The situation is exacerbated by little support being available for teachers interested in teaching the arts after they graduate (Russell-Bowie 2002) and minimal professional development in the arts being offered to primary school teachers (Pascoe et al. 2005; Senate Environment, Recreation, Communications and the Arts References Committee [SERCARC] 1995). Klopper and Power (2010) present an overview of arts education research in Australia. They reveal that there is extensive research in the fields of music education and visual arts education, with comparatively little on drama education, dance education and arts education, as an umbrella term. The majority of studies are on arts education in relation to pre-service teacher education, with slightly fewer on arts education in primary schools and significantly fewer on arts education primary classroom practice. Aside from Power and Klopper (2011), no research is available on primary classroom practice of arts education as an umbrella term, that is, studies that focus on what is actually happening in environments where art is taught or explored and that look at all five art forms (music, visual art, drama, media and dance). Although Power and Klopper (2011) began to address this gap in the literature, theirs is only one study with identified limitations and more research is needed.

Currently, in Australia, ACARA is in the process of establishing a national curriculum for the arts. The recently released Shape of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts (ACARA 2011a) outlines the purpose, structure and organization of the proposed Australian Arts Curriculum. This paper guided the writing of the Australian Arts Curriculum (ACARA 2001b). While full implementation of the Australian Arts Curriculum should not occur until 2015, it is nevertheless an important consideration in understanding the current contexts of arts education in Australia.

A provocative statement was made by Bamford surrounding the lack of Australian research in arts education (cited in Gibson and Anderson 2008: 103): 'While substantial studies into the benefits of arts education have been undertaken in the USA and the UK, very little research has been conducted into the impact of arts education in Australian schools. There is urgent need for a detailed study of the impact of arts programmes within the context of Australian schools.' This book helps to fill this void, building on the success of 'Tapping into Classroom Practice of the Arts' (Klopper and Garvis 2011), the outcome of the first Arts in Practice Symposium in Australia, held in 2010.

Traditional methods of assessing arts practice in generalist classrooms have been claimed inadequate. As Winner and Hetland (2000: 7) suggest, 'more rigorous research' is needed within arts education to ensure better research. Researchers must move 'beyond measuring the effects of the arts in terms of scores on paper and pencil tests to assess how the arts affect learning in areas that are more difficult to measure, but may well be more important' (Winner and Hetland 2000: 7). In the past, the more measurable may have driven out the more meaningful. Within Australia, evaluations of arts education research studies suggest a lack of baseline data and of replication studies, inconsistent measures, vague definitions, imprecise methodology and over-reliance on anecdotal evidence. In a postmodern era, every inquiry mode is now an option. In this book the authors provide a snapshot of learning and teaching of arts education in Australia. The book provides a series of case studies that identify effects, sustainability and impacts of the arts on children's lives. Case studies are drawn from artists, arts educators, gallery and museum arts educators and community arts education organizations and partnerships. Semi-structured interviews with arts educators from a variety of settings aim to uncover the pedagogical practice and decisions to engage students in arts learning; specifically by uncovering the visions, tensions, challenges and celebrations of these practices and decisions based around Bamford and Glinkowski's (2010) Effect and Impact Tracking Matrix (EITM). This construct assists in identifying a number of domains that have been identified through international research in arts education that are consistently associated with high levels of impact. The nine domains are defined by Bamford and Glinkowski (2010) as:

1. personal impact, such as the development of confidence, aspiration, enjoyment, fun and happiness

2. social impact, such as the fostering or development of networks, collaborations, partnerships and contact webs

3. cultural impact, such as changes prompted at an organizational level, changes in external perceptions, changes in profile and influence

4. educational impact, such as new knowledge, skills development, conceptual development, professional education, education of the broader field or community

5. ethical impact, such as addressing social problems or minority issues or audiences, promoting changes in attitudes, or contributing to sustainability

6. economic impact, such as value for money, changing spending patterns, income generation

7. innovation impact, such as talent development, the development of new pedagogic techniques, processes or products and the instigation of debates or new discourse

8. catalytic impact, such as flow-on effects, changes in direction, transformations and journeys

9. negative loss impact, which described things that had to be sacrificed or negative consequences of some other kind that arose – such as opportunity costs, talent loss, personal loss, unhappiness, loss of enjoyment, loss of creativity.

(2010: 8)

A plethora of literature exists documenting the underlying belief and procedures associated with analysing qualitative data. Most are associated with particular approaches or traditions such as grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin 1990), phenomenology (e.g., van Manen 1990), discourse analysis (e.g., Potter and Wetherall 1994) and narrative analysis (e.g., Leiblich 1998). However some analytic approaches are 'generic' and are not labelled within one of the specific traditions of qualitative research (e.g., Ezzy 2002; Pope, Ziebland and Mays 2000; Silverman 2000). When using the EITM, an 'inductive' analysis exists where 'rather than being predetermined, themes are allowed to emerge from the data' (Bamford and Glinkowski 2010: 18). The primary purpose of the inductive approach is to allow research findings to emerge from the frequent, dominant or significant themes inherent in raw data, without the restraints imposed by structured methodologies. Key themes are often obscured, reframed or left invisible because of the preconceptions in the data collection and data analysis procedures imposed by deductive data analysis such as those used in experimental research and hypothesis testing research. Such an approach is 'widely understood to offer a suitable approach to impact evaluation in the field of creative learning' (Bamford and Glinkowski 2010: 18). The EITM (Bamford and Glinkowski 2006) serves as a basis for the presentation of case studies to promote opportunity to listen and hear stories of learning and teaching that highlight each of these domains throughout the book. This strengthens and emphasizes the need to hear, share and critically reflect and understand the work that arts education performs in supporting all key stakeholders. The writing style of the book highlights the voice of arts learners and educators with narrative used to deepen the conversation. The authors provide a contextual place for all key stakeholder voices to be heard in regard to arts education. It contributes to this area of academic study by being one of the first books to include all stakeholder voices from a variety of contexts that are important for children's learning. We show similarities and tensions for arts education, providing the reader with the possibility of working with the arts in the future. The important feature of the book is the illumination of the voice as a respectful way of contemporary research.

The concept of 'children's voice' has received greater focus in child-centred research. Spyrou (2011: 151) suggests that 'one could argue that the interdisciplinary field of childhood studies has built its very raison d'etre around the notion of children's voice. By accessing the otherwise silenced voices of children – by giving children a voice – and presenting them to the rest of the world, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of childhood'. A moral perspective further strengthens the concept of children's voice when children's voice is considered to empower the social position of children and childhood from a social justice and rights perspective.

Children's experiences are organized in narrative form within the memory. Narrative is considered a universal mode of thought and a form of thinking (Bruner 1986; Nelson 1998, 2007). According to Haakarainen et al. (2013: 215), 'from the cultural-historical perspective, a narrative could be defined as a psychological tool formalising and unifying human thought and knowledge into thematic units – units of thought'. Accordingly, narrative is the smallest cell of human thinking, providing insight into the child's experiences.

The use of narrative as a contemporary research technique allows young children to share their experiences with others. The research technique is respectful of the child's voice and allows the child to choose what they would like to share with others (participation). Later chapters in this book will discuss the many different approaches that contemporary research can choose to collect and analyse narratives. Greater awareness and understanding, however, is needed for the widespread importance of narrative as a sense-making form for young children (Bruner 1990).

This book is significant because it allows the use of narratives and highlights the understanding of the 'voice' that comes from children, parents, teachers and principals. According to this concept of voice telling a narrative, we learn from the knowledge that is shared. Our interest is in the particular, in the authentic lived experiences associated with arts education and experiences in schools. As story and narrative have served as the inspiration for many of the chapters within the book, it seems fitting to also describe in this chapter the foundations of their use in research, particularly educational research.

Stories are present within all cultures, as a way of communicating history, understanding experience and making sense of the world. Bruner (1986) describes 'narrative knowing' as one of two modes of thinking and meaning making in which story and experience play a central role. Polkinghorne (1988) agrees:

Our encounter with reality produces a meaningful and understandable flow of experience. What we experience is a consequence of the action of our organizing schemes on the components of our involvement with the world. Narrative is the fundamental scheme for linking individual human actions and events into interrelated aspects of an understandable composite [...] Narrative displays the significance that events have for one another.


The stories people live and tell are a rich source of knowing and meaning making. Narrative inquiry is an epistemological approach to research through which this knowledge is explored and interrogated.

Narrative inquiry, the study of experience as story [...] is first and foremost a way of thinking about experience. Narrative inquiry as a methodology entails a view of the phenomenon. To use narrative inquiry methodology is to adopt a particular narrative view of experience as phenomenon under study.

(Connelly and Clandinin 2006: 477)

Following the definition given above of narrative inquiry, lived experience is central to the methodology. This book provides opportunities for the exploration of arts experiences. The originality in this book is the incorporation of different stakeholder voices and stories being appraised by the EITM. The overall analysis shows the true benefit and cost of arts education within the Australian landscape. Unique insights into what it means to participate in arts education from varying perspectives are provided. Participants were selected using convenient sampling from a range of different educational landscapes across Australia. A range of different consenting voices were chosen to illuminate the diversity that exists within and across Australia. The unique perspectives from teachers, artists, students and arts organizations are shared throughout the following chapters:

The Lived Experience – Finding Joy Through Working in the Arts

This chapter focuses on the connection between self-knowledge and working in the arts and how self-knowledge is used within one's work. It highlights the personal impact of working in the arts, such as the development of confidence, aspiration, enjoyment, fun and happiness.


Excerpted from Representations of Working in Arts Education by Narelle Lemon, Susanne Garvis, Christopher Klopper. Copyright © 2014 Intellect Ltd. Excerpted by permission of Intellect Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables, Images and Cases


Chapter 1:   Listening to Stories: A Framework and Introduction to Why It Is Important to Really Hear What Happens in Arts Education

            Narelle Lemon, Susanne Garvis and Christopher Klopper

Chapter 2:   The Lived Experience: Finding Joy Through Working in the Arts

            Christopher Klopper

Chapter 3:   Twitter for Arts Community Collaborations and Networking: Social Impact of Fostering Partnerships

            Narelle Lemon

Chapter 4:   Building Capacity and Confidence Through Arts-Based Learning Experiences: A Whole-School Approach

            Christopher Klopper

Chapter 5:   Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed but Not Blue: The Educational Impact of the Arts

            Susanne Garvis and Christopher Klopper

Chapter 6:   ‘Whose Art Is It – Mine, Yours or Ours?’: Exploring Ethical Impact

            Susanne Garvis

Chapter 7:   Money Makes the World Go Round: The Economic Impact of Arts in Education

            Susanne Garvis

Chapter 8:   Innovative Partnerships: Opportunities to Create, Make, Explore and Respond in the Arts

            Narelle Lemon and Susanne Garvis

Chapter 9:   Transforming Pedagogy from Listening to Young People’s Voices: Catalytic Impact on a Gallery

            Narelle Lemon

Chapter 10:  Pitfalls and Speed Bumps of Being an Arts Educator: Risk and Negative Loss Impact

            Narelle Lemon and Susanne Garvis

Chapter 11:  Conclusion: Parallels, Overlaps and Potholes in Sharing Stories: ‘Which Way From Here?’

            Narelle Lemon, Susanne Garvis, and Christopher Klopper

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