Profiling Primary School Teachers in Relation to Art Teaching

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<ul><li><p>35Profiling Primary SchoolTeachers in Relation to Art Teaching</p><p>Victoria Pavlou</p><p>JADE 23.1 NSEAD 2004</p><p>This paper contributes to the on-going debateabout specialisation and teaching art in primaryschools. Moreover it provides a starting point forfurther research and the design of in-servicetraining that responds to the different needs andattitudes of primary school teachers in relation toteaching art. This is done by investigating severalprofiles of teachers who teach art in primaryschools in Cyprus. It describes five profiles ofteachers, which emerged from analysing datafrom pupils (questionnaire and interview data)and teachers (interview data) and thus brings afresh insight to the learning-teaching situation.</p><p>There are two profiles of art specialist teachers,named asartist-teacherand specialist-teacher, andthree profiles of non-art specialist teachers,named as enthusiastic, disappointed, and indiffer-ent non-specialist. The most effective teacher inthe pupils eyes is the specialist-teacher, who inte-grates more successfully than the others theirsubject matter knowledge, pedagogical knowl-edge, knowledge of learners and knowledge ofthe environmental conditions. </p><p>Abstract</p></li><li><p>JADE 23.1 NSEAD 2004</p><p>Introduction As art educators, we appreciate arts uniquecontribution to the overall development of pupils.Learning in art provides a body of knowledgeworth knowing and as such it gives the opportu-nity to individuals to develop a distinct way ofmaking sense of their world, a distinct way ofknowing [1]. However, we very often observe andhear that art is a much-neglected area of theprimary curriculum because of pressure to deliverthe core subjects. Teachers have the primeresponsibility for delivering the curriculum andthis paper focuses on understanding primaryteachers expertise of teaching art. It investigatestheir attitudes to art and art teaching in relation totheir subject matter knowledge. </p><p>Subject matter knowledge has been the focusof several arguments in primary educationbecause primary teachers are required to teachall the subjects of the curriculum and fears areexpressed that the curriculum often posses unre-alistic demands on them, with educators arguingthat the established roles of generalist classteachers need to be supplemented by those ofthe subject specialists [2]. Past research inEngland and Wales [3] showed that more thanhalf of the primary teachers did not feel compe-tent in teaching art with their existing subjectknowledge and wanted support. Teachersexpressed concerns about their knowledgeabout art, their practical skills, and access to suit-able resources. Weibe [4], in her study in Canada,demonstrates that art specialists are more effec-tive than generalist class teachers in the quality ofart experiences offered to pupils. Pupils taught byart specialists improved more in their painting andcompositional skills, were more able to expressthemselves personally, and learned more artconcepts and vocabulary than pupils taught byclassroom teachers. Still not all teachers and arteducators are convinced that the possession ofsubject knowledge itself guarantees quality [5],as a teachers capacity to teach depends on anappropriate blend of subject matter knowledgeand pedagogical knowledge [6]. </p><p>More recent studies move the argument toanother level by addressing clearly the issue ofsubject matter knowledge for teaching purposes,and thus introducing the issue of subject knowl-edge and pedagogical knowledge workingtogether [7]. In relation to teacher training,Cochran, DeRuiter, and King [8] propose a modelfor teacher preparation that is based onShulmans [9] concept of pedagogical contentknowledge, called pedagogical content knowing(PCKg). This model identifies four areas of knowl-edge that teachers need to have a goodunderstanding in order to achieve effective teach-ing: subject matter knowledge, pedagogicalknowledge, knowledge of learners, and knowl-edge of the environmental contexts. This modelillustrates that the act of teaching does not involvewhat many beginning teachers think, a simpletransmission of subject matter knowledge topupils, but there is a need for the transmission ofsubject knowledge and for reflecting on how togo about this transmission; that is, how teachersrelate what they know about what they teach(subject matter knowledge) to what they knowabout teaching (pedagogical knowledge), andhow their subject matter knowledge is part of theprocess of pedagogical reasoning [10]. This trans-formation occurs as teachers critically reflect onand interpret their subject knowledge, find differ-ent ways to represent information, adaptmaterials according to pupils prior knowledge,abilities, gender and preconceptions and finallytailor the material to individuals [11]. </p><p>A novel way to offer a fresh insight to theunderstanding of teachers expertise of teaching(PCKg) is by examining not only what teachersthemselves state about their teaching but alsowhat pupils say about their teachers. It issuggested that teachers working from a strongsubject matter knowledge basis will probably bemore able to respond to pupils needs [12] andthus be more able to promote strong positive atti-tudes towards art among their pupils. However,these arguments are based on evidence regard-ing the effectiveness of teaching based on</p><p>36Victoria Pavlou</p></li><li><p>JADE 23.1 NSEAD 2004</p><p>teachers point of view and not on pupilsaccounts; it is this gap the present paperaddresses. More specifically the following ques-tions are dealt with: What are teachers attitudestowards art and art teaching? Are these influ-enced by their subject matter knowledge? Doteachers specialisation and attitudes make adifference to pupils attitudes? What are theteachers types of knowledge (pedagogical orsubject matter) that make a difference to pupilsattitudes? Which profile of teacher is the mosteffective in the pupils eyes?</p><p>The teachers profiles described in this paperemerged during the process of answering theabove questions. </p><p>Method The study was conducted in Cyprus during Mayand June of 2000. Sixteen teachers participatedin this study. There were two male and fourteenfemale teachers between the ages of 27 and 39.Teachers had different levels of art specialisation:a) five of them were art specialists, that is, primaryschool teachers who pursued their special inter-est in art by obtaining further qualificationsabroad, such as MA in art and design educationor BA in fine arts, b) four were primary schoolteachers who had chosen an extra module for artduring their last year of their teacher-trainingcourse, and who were named at the initial stageof the study as semi-specialists, and c) sevenwere primary school teachers with no specialisa-tion in art teaching. </p><p>With the purpose of gaining insight into teach-ers attitudes towards art and towards artteaching semi-structured interviews were carriedout. The interview schedule consisted of open-ended questions covering two broad areas. Onthe one hand the interviews aimed to elicit teach-ers attitudes towards art, and more specifically,teachers perceptions of what is art, the way thatteachers felt personally in dealing with art interms of both enjoyment and confidence (in thepast as pupils and students, and in the present),and teachers views about the importance and</p><p>usefulness of art in society and in school. On theother hand the interviews focused on teachersattitudes towards art teaching practice; their opin-ions about the aims of art lessons, their beliefsabout how pupils learn/improve in art, their viewson the role of the art curriculum, their views aboutthe importance of studying artworks/artists/artmovements, and how they dealt with existingproblems. Teachers were also asked to giveaccounts/examples of their art lessons, and in fewoccasions there were observations of art lessons. </p><p>Teachers were interviewed individually withinterviews running from 45 to 90 minutes. Theinterviews were audio taped and transcribed. Thetranscripts were returned to teachers for verifica-tion and clarification. The analysis of the data wasfounded on an inductive approach, which isbased on a constant comparative method of dataanalysis proposed by Maykut and Morehouse[13]. A follow-up interview was arranged with sixteachers, whose classes were chosen for pupilinterviews. </p><p>ResultsThe presentation of teachers profiles is part of abigger study [14] that aimed: a) to assess sixthgrade pupils attitudes to art experienced inschool and b) to investigate the role of their teach-ers level of art specialisation. In an effort to betterunderstand the relationship between teacherssubject matter knowledge and attitudes andpupils attitudes, the profiles emerged. That is,taking into consideration what pupils said on anattitude questionnaire and during interviewsabout their teachers ability to promote strongpositive attitudes among them, new ways ofcategorising teachers emerged. 420 pupils asixth grade class each taught by the 16 teachers completed a Likert-type attitude questionnaire,which was constructed for the purpose of thisstudy. Four pupils (two boys and two girls withmixed abilities) from six classes were interviewedin groups and individually. The degree accord-ing to the attitude questionnaire to whichteachers were able to promote high positive atti-</p><p>37Victoria Pavlou</p></li><li><p>JADE 23.1 NSEAD 2004</p><p>tudes among their pupils, prompted a re-organi-sation of the initial three categories of teachersthat took into consideration only teachers level ofspecialisation to three new categories that tookinto consideration teachers level of specialisationand teachers attitudes [15] (see phase 1 and 2 atfigure 1).</p><p>In addition pupils interviews indicated that artspecialists could be divided into two sub-cate-gories: those who were artists and those whowere not. Pupils comments indicated that non-artists were probably more able to respond totheir learning preferences and there was also asense that pupils taught by them enjoyed artmore. This was also confirmed by the attitudequestionnaire [16]. A second important variablefor grouping teachers was teachers responsesduring interviews. Teachers attitudes to art andart teaching, as expressed in the interviews,enabled the researcher to develop the categoriesfurther and elaborate them into profiles by identi-fying the issues that distinguish the artists fromthe non-artists art specialists. It is fair to noticethat these issues might have gone unnoticed ifpupils views were not considered. Moreover,</p><p>teachers interviews indicated that within theUNS category of teachers, there were two sub-categories because teachers negative attitudestowards art teaching was the result of two differ-ent viewpoints: one of frustration because oftheir inability to overcome contextual problems,and one of indifference towards the art subject ingeneral. Thus pupils stated attitudes and teach-ers attitudes let to the elaboration of the fiveprofiles (see phase 3 of figure 1).</p><p>ProfilesTeacher and pupil data indicated that teachersexpertise in teaching was influenced by at leastfive elements: their attitudes towards art, theirsubject knowledge, their pedagogical knowl-edge, their knowledge of learners, andknowledge of environmental context. The PCKgmodel [17] is used to illustrate each teacherprofile by showing which component has moreweight in each case (see figure 2). More detailedinformation about the characteristics of eachprofile is given below. The reason for presentinghow each profile may be placed within the PCKgmodel is to offer an overview of what will follow</p><p>38Victoria Pavlou</p></li><li><p>JADE 23.1 NSEAD 2004</p><p>and to use this figure as a reference throughoutthe presentation of the profiles. </p><p>AT is used for the artist-teacher and it is posi-tioned within the component of subject matterknowledge. ST represents the specialist-teacherand it is located close to the centre of the fourcomponents. ENS is for the enthusiastic non-specialist who could fit within the knowledge of thepupils and/or within the knowledge of pedagogy.DNSrepresents the disappointed non-specialistandis positioned within the environment contextknowledge. Lastly INS is used for the indifferentnon-specialistand it is placed outside of the cycles.</p><p>Artist-teacher (AT)ATs were confident in their abilities in art andappeared to work from a strong subject knowl-edge base. They were knowledgeable of artists,art movements and different techniques of work-ing with different materials and thus theyappeared to have the knowledge to advancepupils work. They enjoyed teaching art and beingengaged personally in making art and visitingexhibitions. They were very pleased to havesucceeded in exhibiting their work and thus tohave entered the world of artists. </p><p>Before going for studies abroad, I thought that Iwould never make abstract art. I liked realistic art. []But my views changed radically. I wanted to changethem! Im very pleased with my studies [] I partici-pated in three group exhibitions it was great! I amnow working on my first individual exhibition! (Artist-teacher) </p><p>However, at the time of interviewing, theywere not well-recognised professional exhibitingartists and they were probably at the beginning oftheir search to find their own style.</p><p>ATs talked about their work with a great dealof enthusiasm. They had specific aims in mind,which were based on the principles of the artcurriculum (art production, responding to art [18],art criticism and art history). For them it wasimportant to teach pupils to see art both fromwithin (as a productive activity) and from without(as an aesthetic activity), as makers and as view-ers. They also engaged pupils in discussionsabout the very nature of art in an effort to helpthem realise that there were several ways ofdefining art and that art was not just a depictionof reality. They acknowledged that most sixthgraders asked for realism and started to doubttheir abilities in art making. Thus, they believedthat responding to art had a crucial role to play in</p><p>Opposite:</p><p>Figure 1The devopment ofthe profiles from theintial categories ofteachers based onteachers subjectmatter knowledgeand attitudes to art</p><p>Above:</p><p>Figure 2 Teachers profilesand PCKg</p><p>39Victoria Pavlou</p></li><li><p>JADE 23.1 NSEAD 2004</p><p>helping pupils broaden their views of what artwas. To this end, they introduced abstract art totheir pupils and they aimed at taking them to exhi-bitions. It is these activities that ATs believedcontributed to the artistic development of theirpupils. These teachers acknowledged problemsthat made their work difficult (such as time, spaceand resources), but they had a positive attitudeand believed that they could find solutions tothem. Teachers from this group seemed to workfrom different aesthetic positions [19]: pragmaticand formalism. Overall, ATs teaching expertisewas highly influenced by their strong subjectmatter knowledge and thus this profile is placedwithin the range of the subject knowledgecomponent of PCKg (see figure 2). </p><p>Pupils taught by an artist-teacher appeared toacknowledge that the instructions they receivedfr...</p></li></ul>


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