Educating the critical mind in art : practice-based research into teaching critical studies in A level art.
I researched an area of the curriculum called 'the critical and historical study', a
part of the Advanced level art syllabus in which I felt improvements could be
made in my teaching.
An investigation of the relationship between my teaching and students' responses
was carried out as part of reviewing and improving the critical study unit of
coursework. Curriculum changes made between 1997-1999, intended to provide
students with different ways of making practical responses to other people's art
and a range of methods for interpreting the meanings of art were studied using
action research methods to capture the dynamic of changes in practice and in my
Changes were also being made more broadly at a structural level through post
sixteen educational policy reforms. I wanted to situate my practice in the
contextual dimensions of A level art and describe my involvement in writing a
new syllabus for the subject during this period of reform.
I also wanted to understand better concepts of critical studies in art education
historically in their policy contexts. Undertaking curriculum policy analysis helped
me to make sense of the latest period of change and explore curriculum divisions
within the subject such as the 'uneasy relationship' between art history and
studio practice. A relationship whose unease intensified in the mid 19805 and
coincided with my career entry into the teaching profession.
I turned my attention to the emergence of critical studies over the last forty
years, and considered how that impacted on my teaching in the last fifteen years.
I traced different conceptions of critical studies to unravel the value positions of
its promoters in order to understand and to locate my own position in the
development of the discipline.
In combination, these interests gave my research a multiple focus and required
complex methodologicaJ approaches in order to make sense of critical studies in
art education through my classroom practice and students' experiences,
curriculum policy histories, art education literature and autobiographical life