The truant curriculum : an investigation of the place of critical studies in secondary art education
This research is motivated by two central questions: 1) Why has the place of critical studies in secondary art and design been diagnosed as 'fragile'? 2) Can practitioners from related fields inform a critical curriculum through interventionist strategies? To place the thesis in context, the National Curriculum is examined to indicate the place of critical studies within official art educational discourse. This analysis reveals a disjunction between official rhetoric and practice, one that stimulated the interdisciplinary, action research project, Art Critics and Art Historians in Schools. The researchers aimed to understand, inform and change the a critical practices of school art by instigating critical residencies drawing on the investigative and interpretative methods of (new) art history and the practices of critical pedagogy. Employing Bernstein's theory of pedagogic codes, qualitative data drawn from the project is analysed to understand the insularity of the subject and the asymmetry in power relations between art education and the other professional discourses that dominate it. These disjunctions are the starting point for a genealogy that traces the development of modernist art education using Bourdieu's concepts of 'capital', `habitus' and 'field' to navigate its complexities. The unfolding narrative reveals the dialectical philosophies that produced modernist art education and made an a critical model in secondary education tenable, an a criticality that sits uncomfortably beside the critical discourses of modernist art. Related fields are examined to understand the social and cultural conditions that have succeeded in producing a critical education. The critical traditions for the interpretation of art (including art history and visual semiotics) are examined and assessed as potential critical resources. Evidence emerges of art teachers' mistrust towards the role of writing in critical studies which has led to the current resistance. In response, the interventionist strategies of critical pedagogy and cultural studies are advocated as a means to overcome such resistance.