An investigation into the factors which determine students' choice of art education in secondary schools in Nigeria
The purpose of the study was to examine the factors which influence students' decision to take up the role of an art student in secondary schools in Nigeria and propose ways to advance the study of art in secondary education. Pedagogy tells that children in elementary schools are very interested in art education, but when they leave primary school and enter secondary school, this enthusiasm changes quickly and students no longer show interest in art education. Researches in art education also show that only a fraction of the teenage population which attend secondary schools choose art education in the WASC and the GCE examinations. A very few students carry over art interest into adult life. A play of factors is at work in deciding the change in behaviour. The study critically examined the factors and their influences on students' choice of art education. The research was in three phases: (1) a general survey on students' background experiences in art teaching, people's attitude towards art and the position of art in education; (2) a case study of art education in some selected secondary schools; and (3) another case study of art education in a particular institution, chosen on the basis of the strength of its art department. The research involved fifteen states, secondary schools, teachers, students, principals and administrators. The research procedures revolved around structured interviews, observations, questionnaires and documentary resources. The analyses of the data provided the following: (1) The decision to study art as a major subject was the result of a number of different forces which not only conflicted with each other, but reflected the tendency of divergence between the values of artists and those of the society as whole. Sometimes the decision to take art instead of science was based on a lack of sufficiently good marks in the areas relevant to science. The selection of the subject was by no means uniquely due to outstanding performance in art because art students who gave art as their best subject had none the less considered careers in other fields. Others both gave a subject other than art as their best and considered other careers. This provided the probability of other sorts of motivation towards and away from the role of an art student. Some students who opted for art hoped to reconcile its values with the socially dominant ones, which stressed such needs as earning capacity, job security, and occupational prestige. Others had enough encouragements in the social milieu, in the family and in the school. (2) There were traditional assumptions about the role of art in society and in education, which pushed the works of artists and the works of the art teachers down the list of social and educational priorities. (3) Some of the issues which confronted students were to do with long-established attitudes towards art and art education. Based on the findings of the study, it is recommended that: (1) Quality of education and life-long education cannot be achieved by only focussing on high standards of literacy and numeracy through a specialised curriculum; by choosing between science or art, vocational qualification or education for leisure. All need to be equally represented in a well balanced curriculum. Each stands to gain through being taught in conjunction with the others. Those talented in art can be successful in the sciences and vise versa. What children and adolescents need is a varied general education, which sees the acquisition of knowledge and practical skills as integral parts of development. Attitudes towards art and art teachers need to be improved. The deep-rooted attitude and the collary of this - that the subject is less significant - are issues which need to be campaigned against.