"I wanted to stay away from body-image, I hated body-image, it was so cliché, it was overkill and I wanted to do something completely different and the idea that I came up with, they said it was too shallow, like it wasn’t in depth enough and they made me do body-image, and it really made me unhappy."
- Research Participant during our interview.
On reflection, I feel like this chapter is the second weakest. There were some avenues that I did not fully explore (largely due to word limit), but largely, I was frustrated as in working through this chapter, I found myself wishing that I had asked a particular follow up question to draw further insight from my research participants, to get to the heart of what they were saying. Both of these issues were noted within the examiners feedback, as was the fact that I missed, apparently, some significant articles in my research which would have made for strong additions to my writing. I found this a frustrating piece of feedback, not because I disagreed with it but because the articles and researchers that had been suggested had not come up at all in my literature review.
This means that either their importance is over-stated (unlikely) or that I did not hit on the right combination of keywords to find those particular researchers. As well, it was noted that I did not address some issues at all, such as the impact of perceptions within schools observed during practicum and the impact that had on relationships with the arts. In some instances, I had not the clarity of mind at the time, nor the experience to follow up responses with exploratory questions. In others, it simply did not seem like something that I needed to follow up until I started to write this chapter.
If you missed either of the previous chapters, you can find them here.
As always, thank you for reading, and I welcome any constructive feedback you care to offer.
Chapter III – Data Analysis
This chapter examines the participants’ expressed narratives relating to art education and the perceived barriers to implementing art education in pedagogical practice. It is understood that the barriers are perceived by the research participants as a result of their discursively constituted subjectivities vis-à-vis art education. I explore the discourses that constitute the participants’ subject positioning; both as the participants perceive their own positioning, and as they are positioned by others and I will examine the way in which discourses about art education are taken-up and influence the participants’ subjectivities relating to art education and their perception of barriers to implementing art education in pedagogical practice.
Post-structuralism has been useful in assisting with the process of questioning the taken for granted assumptions about art education, and in troubling the discourses as they emerged from the data. Additionally, positioning theory has been utilised as a conceptual tool to facilitate the understanding of the way in which the participants engaged with the nexus of multiple and discordant discourses inherent in the process of understanding, making sense of, and acting in the world around us (Boyd et al., 2007; Davies, 1990).
Rather than analysing the data (discourses) from each participant individually, the analysis has been conducted thematically. Undertaking the discourse analysis thematically facilitated the provision of a more nuanced understanding of emergent discourses as well as provided the opportunity to “…disrupt that which is taken as stable/unquestionable truth” (Davies, 2004). The analysis of the emergent discourses was guided by the research questions. However, given the semi-structured nature of the interviews as outlined in chapter two, relevant themes that emerged from the discourses were also examined in order to provide greater contextual understanding of the discursively constituted subject positions vis-à-vis art education and the barriers for their implementation in pedagogical practiced as they are perceived by the research participants.
This process of using discourse analysis to draw out the emergent themes was conducted utilising the ‘coding and memoing’ process as outlined by Punch (2009). This process begins with descriptive coding which is the process of determining which sections of the data are commensurate with which pre-determined themes, the pre-determined themes in this research having been based upon those themes which came through whilst reviewing the literature. Concurrent to the coding, memoing takes place, whereby analytical observations about particular pieces of data are noted – memoed - which then becomes the basis for the theoretical or conceptual analysis of the emergent discourses (Punch, 2009).
This process allowed for an understanding of the emergent discourses, and it needs to be noted that in accordance with the post-structuralist theorising which has guided this research project, that the subjective understandings of the emergent discourses within this analysis are not to be taken as the ‘truth’, but as merely one potentiality, based upon my own subjectivities as a result of the discourses which I, as the researcher, have been constituted by and have constructed my own subject positions in relation to art education. This is in accordance with Fuery’s (1995 as cited in Davies, 1997) notion that there are no absolute certainties and that truths are merely constructions and should be understood as such. This is also consistent with Davies’ (2004) belief that the participants’ narratives are not evidence of reality but are statements revealing the ways in which the participants are making sense of their world, and that as the researcher, I am not able to be separate from the data and understandings drawn from within the data and within my own discursively constituted subject positioning.
Understanding the subjectivities of the research participants is crucial to understanding the way the participants interpret, negotiate and take-up the competing discourses which they are subject to. To this end, I have examined the subject positions of the individual research participants prior to their undertaking the ITE program, and then analysed the emergent discourses that have affected their subject positions in relation to art education and the perceived barriers to its employment in pedagogical practice.
“…I was always interested in the arts…”
The first pre-service teacher who consented to becoming a participant in this study was Jean. From within Jean’s narrative regarding her experiences with art education prior to undertaking her ITE program, there were two distinct and conflicting discourses which emerged from her narrative:
…I was always interested in the arts all the way through primary school.
The first statement might be read as an ‘enjoyment’ discourse, indicating that the arts were something that Jean enjoyed “…all the way through primary school”, a statement highlighting an interest sustained over a period of approximately four years. The subsequent statement might be read as a ‘value’ discourse, reflecting the pedagogical practices used by Jean’s teachers in relation to the arts, a silent, implicit, discourse that arts education is merely ‘filler’ and as such, has no inherent value. In these two statements, the ‘enjoyment’ and ‘value’ discourses are used as counterpoints to each other - the second statement from Jean implies that the arts are fun and are used pedagogically as “filler” because they have no inherent value due to not relating to anything else.
Jean’s narrative might be seen as being congruent with research by Cohen-Evron (2002), who found that the arts are commonly employed as part of teachers’ pedagogical practice within discrete blocks of time, a pedagogical choice which serves to limit the opportunities for integration with other KLAs, and to limit the opportunities for students to make connections between their learning and the real world. Jean’s statement about her experiences with art education could be read as being indicative of the low levels of educational significance that the learning taking place had to Jean’s life. Given the long-term focus on standardised testing results in Australian education, this enactment of art education pedagogical practice is also consistent with the view that lowered levels of intellectual quality and significance are constitutive of art education when there is an overriding focus on, and concern with, standardised testing results (Hamblen, 1990 as cited in Krug & Cohen-Evron, 2000).
Jean’s subject positioning with regards to art education was further discursively constructed through a negative experience with arts pedagogical practice in her senior years at high school whilst undertaking Visual Arts as a HSC subject. Jean had a particular idea for her major artwork, but was prevented from implementing her idea:
I wanted to stay away from body-image, I hated body-image, it was so cliché, it was overkill and I wanted to do something completely different and the idea that I came up with, they said it was too shallow, like it wasn’t in depth enough and they made me do body-image, and it really made me unhappy.
Jean elaborated further on this negative experience:
…I basically didn’t do anything, except make some bullshit concept, and make some bullshit visual arts diary, that showed my method in it, it wasn’t my idea at all, and I, I hated it, but I didn’t even, once it was done, I just left everything at school.
This experience resulted in Jean leaving the entire artwork behind after it was completed, and then not doing “anything arty…until uni”, which was several years later. Jean’s voice, whilst recounting this particular experience, was filled with a significant amount of venom. These experiences were influential and complicit in forming Jean’s subjectivity of viewing art education as simply “filler”, prior to her undertaking the ITE program.
“It was just something I enjoyed doing”
The second pre-service teacher who engaged with the research as a participant was Justin. Justin was heavily exposed to the arts prior to his entry into the ITE program both through his family and his community theatre commitments:
I’ve always been exposed to, mainly music, and acting and drama, so, um, I’ve participated in a lot of musicals with [a] musical society so, I’ve had a really big experience with the creative arts in that way. So I have been exposed to it quite a lot.
Once again, an ‘enjoyment’ discourse informs the recollection of the involvement with the arts:
I didn’t really think of its role in education, it is a vital part of it looking back, it needs to be there. But before I started doing [the ITE program], it was just something I enjoyed doing, and through high school…I elected to do it because I enjoyed it.
Justin’s experiences with art were such that although he “…didn’t really think of its role in education…” at the time, he was nonetheless favourably disposed towards art and art education.
As with Jean’s recollection of art education experiences, the discourse of art as something to enjoy emerges strongly from Justin’s narrative. However, unlike Jean, Justin was not ‘turned off’ from the arts, as indicated by his ongoing involvement in community theatre. This may be due to family involvement in the arts, which Justin alluded to when discussing the ever-present status of the arts in his life in the first quote, however this in itself elicits another discourse, a ‘family’ discourse, which I return to below.
Justin’s continued involvement with the arts after high school is in stark contrast to the level of arts involvement as expressed by Jean. Justin’s involvement continued and expanded through, and as a result of, engagement with the local musical society, whereas Jean’s involvement in the arts was curtailed by her subject positioning to the arts as a result of discourses and art education pedagogical practices which she was subjected to. This juxtaposition indicates that a ‘pedagogical practice’ discourse is a factor in the subjectivities of pre-service teachers towards art education, a discourse that I will return to later.
The positive attitude towards art that emerges from Justin’s narrative is indicative of his experiences with the arts outside of the scholastic environment. This narrative is consistent with the previously expressed belief of Eisner (1999) that the level of understanding of the value of art education is linked to the personal level of arts involvement.
I did creative arts through to my GSCE’s in the UK…and then pretty much nothing until I had kids. And then I used art a lot with my children…prior to them going to school, and then nothing really til I got [to the ITE program]. So just at home…art with the kids to engage them and assist them in their learning of life skills.
From these three short excerpts of Clare’s interview, some familiar discourses emerge, the first of which is an ‘enjoyment’ discourse. That Clare found the arts enjoyable is evident from the way in which she repeatedly refers to the arts as joyful, both for herself and how she views them as being joyful for others, including children at various stages of their primary education, and in a variety of contexts.
A ‘value’ discourse is also evident. Once again, a negative ‘value’ discourse was promoted through her secondary schooling, as evidenced by the statement that “…the school [Clare] went to didn’t encourage art.” Whilst the ‘value’ discourse, as observed by Clare, was different to the ‘value’ discourse as observed by Jean, it nonetheless resulted in a negative subject positioning relating to art education, in that the arts were not encouraged to be undertaken at her school. As a result of this discouragement for continued art studies, Clare’s arts studies were discontinued, whilst she carried on with her sports involvement.
With a brief examination of the subjectivities vis-à-vis art education taken-up by the research participants, I now turn to a thematic examination of the discourses that emerged from my reading of the interview transcripts. “…I don’t…place [art] on the same value as [other KLAs]…”
From each of the participants’ narratives a ‘value’ discourse, in a variety of forms, consistently emerged. To clarify this idea, I conceptualise a ‘value’ discourse as being the beliefs, whether explicit or implicit, that are expressed through speech or action, relating to the value of art education as perceived by the individual or institution expressing the discourse. This particular discourse, as with any discourse, can be positive, negative, neutral or a mixture of all three in its effect on the taken-up subjectivities. I have already examined some examples of the ‘value’ discourse in the brief introduction to the research participants’ subject positions in relation to art education prior to their undertaking the ITE program and the remainder of this chapter will be a deeper examination of these emergent discourses in order to question the taken for granted assumptions about the value of art education.
Within the examples of ‘value’ discourses about art education that I have already examined, there seems to be a tacit acceptance, to varying degrees of the value-less, useless-ness or lack of relevance of art education. This does not necessarily come from the research participants, but from many of those surrounding the participants. This is evident through references all three participants made to art education, with value-laden comments such as:
Jean: I feel like the younger kids are more open to [art]. The older kids are like ‘oh this is stupid’;
Arguably, such statements reinforce the notion of arts as being, at best, an ‘optional add-on’ (Krash, 1954). As part of questioning the taken for granted assumptions about art education, it needs to be asked why this is so The research outlining the benefits of art education would suggest a need to trouble the apparent divergence between this understanding and the implementation of art education in pedagogical practice.
Schooling and education itself have been described as being “the starkest example in modern society of an entire institution modelled after the assembly line” (Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, & Dutton, 2012, p. 35) which was “designed originally to produce a compliant, functionally literate and numerate workforce…and has been sustained…in the same way ever since” (Bird et al., 2012, p. 10). Hooley (2008) suggests that the reason that schooling and education have been “sustained…in the same way…” (Bird et al., 2012, p. 10) since the current schooling format was implemented during the industrial revolution is the multitude of competing discourses regarding the purpose of education that are expressed in the socio-political arena (Donnelly & Wiltshire, 2014).
The notion that there is no inherent ‘value’ in art education is consistent with the neo-liberal view that has been a feature of the current and preceding Federal Governments and their respective Education Ministers, with the ‘back to basics’ rhetoric that has pervaded education discourses over the last five years (Australia Associated Press, 2014; Cullen, 2014; Hurst, 2013; Pyne, 2011). The deployment of the negative ‘value’ discourse is in accordance with the belief that understanding the value of the arts to your own or others’ lives is difficult if the arts are not already a part of your own life, and that the removal of arts from student’s lives vis-à-vis the education curricula is potentially the reason why the contribution of art education to learning outcomes is often questioned (Eisner, 1999).
The low ‘value’ discourse was evident within Jean’s narrative when she commented on the isolated nature of art education pedagogical practice:
…my experience with the arts never tied into anything else.
And later on:
We’d go to an art teacher, and he’d do art with us, so it was never really an integrated unit or anything. It was just totally separate
Kagan (1992) writes that pedagogical practices employed by a teacher are indicative of the teacher’s subjectivities relative to that subject. This would indicate that where art education is enacted as a stand-alone or isolated study, that the teacher holds a low ‘value’ subject position relating to the arts. Hinde-McLeod & Reynolds (2007) write however that in order to ensure deep understanding, significance and intellectual quality of teaching that lessons need to maintain a level of continuity, and that as part of this, and to make the demands of teaching achievable, that it is critical to integrate the KLAs.
This is a stance reflected within the Melbourne Declaration (Barr, Bishop et al., 2005), which explicitly talks about the delivery of “…an integrated, comprehensive and effective approach to education and the arts…” (Barr, Bishop et al., 2005, p. 8) The enactment of the creative arts syllabus (Board of Studies NSW, 2006) in a manner which is “…integrated, comprehensive and effective” (Barr, Bishop et al., 2005, p. 8) is not possible when art education, as is the case in many schools, is delivered in an isolated manner, thereby removing any potential for cross-disciplinary enquiry (Krug & Cohen-Evron, 2000).
The effects of the negative ‘value’ discourse can be seen as resulting in the compartmentalisation of the arts as a discrete subject area, or as was Clare’s experience, can go so far as to result in schools discouraging art education:
…the school I went to didn’t encourage arts in the sixth…they were much more [pause] academically based subjects that were on offer
The NSW Department of Education (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2003) notes that achieving high quality learning outcomes for students requires the learning to be significant to them, such that they are able to see and understand why the learning matters and are able to make connections between the learning and the real world. When the ‘value’ discourse negatively positions both people and institutions, as seen in both Jean’s and Clare’s experiences, this results in limited significance of learning for students, and accordingly, reduced learning outcomes (Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate, 2003). It also results in the isolation of not just the subject areas, but the teachers and a decontextualisation of knowledge and skills from their origins which in turn can result in shallow learning (Britzman, 1991).
Clare’s recollections about the negative ‘value’ discourse from her secondary schooling can be seen to have had an effect on her own discursively constituted subjectivity regarding art education. Clare has taken-up the negative ‘value’ discourse in applying a greater ‘value’ to the non-arts subjects by labelling them as “…much more academically based…” than the arts-based subjects available. Clare’s taking up of the negative ‘value’ discourse as part of her subject position towards art education is reinforced when she states that:
…I’m not going to be an art teacher that teaches art, but I definitely want it as part of my tool kit.
This subject position places a mostly negative ‘value’ on art education. It is not completely negative however. Clare allows for art “…as part of [her] toolkit” but it won’t be a central component of her pedagogical practice. The effect of the negative ‘value’ discourse can also be seen in Jean’s discursively constructed subject position privileging some KLAs over art. It is interesting to note that of the KLAs that Clare has mentioned, all except one are part of the standardised testing regime through either NAPLAN, the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) (OECD, 2014) or the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center, Lynch School of Education Boston College, & International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 2014):
…there is a value to [art], but…I don’t place it on the same value as HSIE, or science and technology or English or maths.
In contrast to the negative discursively constituted subject positions indicated above, all three participants also exhibited some positive ‘value’ subject positions:
Jean: …the arts can help students, especially who can’t write things out or express themselves verbally, writing or anything, it could be a way for them to show their understanding of it.
The obvious dichotomy of taken-up subject positions is consistent with Cohen-Evron’s (2002) suggestion that it is possible to hold at any time conflicting beliefs and feelings, vis-à-vis subject positions in relation to art education (Cohen-Evron, 2002).
“…it gives you a sense of freedom…”
Clare makes a very interesting comment about the subjectivities she has taken-up regarding the positive ‘value’ of art education when she observes that for some students, expression via art is more achievable than expression via the ‘traditional’ school method, that is, through the written schoolwork. This expression dovetails with a revealing comment that she made later in our conversation:
…I think [art] gives you a sense of freedom to be the person that your conscience tells you you can be, but socially, you’re not allowed to be.
Within this statement, alongside the positive ‘value’ discourse, there is another emergent discourse, an ‘art as expression’ discourse. The discourse being expressed here could be read as relating to the social mores of western civilisation within which Clare is situated. The implication is that the ‘socially sanctioned’ and externalised subject positions are contrary to the withheld and internalised subject positions. Clare’s taken-up subjectivities about art imply that expected social expression is more restrained, and prevents the internalised subjectivities from being externalised. This ‘art as expression’ discourse comes through in Jean’s comments where she indicates a belief that art can be a platform for expression for those students incapable of the socially expected and acceptable expressions, a discourse that Clare takes further:
…I think so many children learn and express themselves better with drawing, music, drama, than they can with writing things down…and I do know from experience, life experience that with counselling, relationship issues, grief, that sort of thing, art is a powerful medium, to get kids to tell you a story.
This statement implies that the arts are a medium for expressing socially uncomfortable topics, beliefs or feelings, or for expressing a formative understanding that the artist is incapable of expressing through writing. This discourse was also expressed by Joan Livermore (2003 as cited in Gibson & Anderson, 2008, p. 104) when she wrote that “…the arts can facilitate personal and social development…” (p. v). The ‘art as expression’ discourse is also beneficial to students from non-English speaking backgrounds, as it provides an opportunity for alternate means of expression (Brouillette, 2009).
“My dad is a mechanical engineer, believes art is a waste of space.”
A ‘family’ discourse emerged from all three participants’ narratives as an influential component in the participants’ discursively constituted subjectivities relating to art education, particularly in their take-up of the positive or negative ‘values’ discourse vis-à-vis art education. The ‘family’ discourse in this context relates to the views, beliefs and feelings about art that are enacted through speech, action or writing from family members.
The research participants related a complex mix of encountered ‘family’ discourses that played a part in their discursively constructed subject positions vis-à-vis the arts. Justin experienced positive ‘family’ discourses through exposure to music and dramatic performance:
…I’m from a musical [family], so I’ve always been exposed to, mainly music and acting and drama…
This positive engagement with the arts constitutes a ‘family’ discourse to which Justin was consistently exposed. This ‘family’ discourse played a role in Justin’s taking-up of the ‘positive’ value discourse about the arts and art education - visible in his comments about electing to continue to study music in his secondary education, his ongoing involvement with community theatre, and his expressed disappointment at not being able to teach as much music as he would like during his internship practicum due to the utilisation of the RFF session as a specific music class. It can be seen here that as a result of the ‘family’ discourse, that the arts have come to play a significant role in Justin’s life, and throughout his narrative, there was no indication of the ‘value’ discourse being attributed a negative ‘value’, and accordingly, no evident scepticism regarding the contribution of art education to academic achievement (Eisner, 1999).
The ‘family’ discourse that Jean related was more ambivalent in nature:
...my little brother, he’s been going through primary school, and all I can remember of his art things is just big butcher’s pieces of paper with paint all over it. I don’t really remember anything else art that he’s done or brought home.
The ‘family’ discourse seen here is dismissive of the arts, but not necessarily negative. The conceptualisation of art education as being “…something you do” demonstrates an acceptance of the place within the mandated curriculum of the creative arts syllabus (Board of Studies NSW, 2006) but does not demonstrate a taken-up subject position that ascribes a positive ‘value’ to art education in its own right. The influence of the ‘family’ discourse in the constitution of the taken-up subjectivities can be seen within Jean’s elaboration on her current subjectivities relating to art education:
I think now…I mean…I can see how art can tie into things. I find the concept more important than the actual art, if that makes sense. Like, if I’m teaching a different concept in…English or maths…art just [pause] isn’t a big part of it, it’s just like a little part of it.
The ambivalent nature of the ‘family’ discourse to which Jean has been exposed can be seen reflected here in the discursively constituted nature of her own taken-up subjectivities in relation to art education. This supports the notion that it is common for subject positioning to be constituted through conflicting and contradictory discourses (Atkinson, 2004), a concept also demonstrated through Clare’s interview transcript.
My dad is a mechanical engineer, believes art is a waste of space…my mum is a special ed teacher so [she] has a different view completely, so I come from Martha and Arthur”
The ‘family’ discourse to which Clare growing up was exposed to growing up was constructed from conflicting expressions and subjectivities with regard to the ‘value’ discourse. Paternally, there was an expression of a distinctly negative ‘value’ discourse, with a completely negative value ascribed to art. Counter to this, maternally, Clare was exposed to a positive ‘value’ discourse regarding art. Clare, elaborating on the ‘family’ discourses she has been exposed to, relates that it was her mother’s subject position that played the larger role in discursively constructing her own taken-up subject position.
Luckily, my mum pushed us through and I played the piano through til grade eight, so musically, we’ve always music in the house.
Despite the conflicting ‘value’ discourses that were expressed through the ‘family’ discourse, Clare’s subject position about art and art education was a result of her negotiation of the conflicting ‘value’ discourses about art education to which she was exposed. Clare’s narrative indicates that the ‘family’ discourse vis-à-vis the arts continue to express conflicting ‘value’ discourses. Clare related that she chooses to take her children to art museums and the theatre in an expression of positive ‘value’ discourse about arts, whilst her husband’s holds a somewhat negative subject positioning in relation to the arts, which he expresses through not attending these arts-based excursions.
This creates, for Clare’s children, an environment that is replicating that which Clare grew up in. The ‘family’ discourse to which her children are exposed is therefore made up of conflicting ‘value’ discourses and consequently, their taken-up subjectivities will be a result of the way in which they position themselves amidst the nexus of conflicting discourses. As with Clare herself, those up subject positions may encapsulate contradictory subjectivities, as a result of the conflicting ‘value’ discourses that are expressed through the ‘family’ discourse.
It can be seen that the ‘family’ discourse is an expression of the ‘value’ discourse through speech, action or in writing from members of an individual’s family. It is important to note the distinction between the ‘value’ discourse, as expressed through the ‘family’ discourse, and the ‘value’ discourses as expressed elsewhere. Children attend school, having taken-up subjectivities as a result of the multitude of ‘family’ discourses that are expressed both explicitly and implicitly in the home. It has been shown that these attitudinal differences, as a result of the discursively constituted subjectivities are responsible for the largest variation in student learning outcomes (Barr, Bishop et al., 2005; OECD, 2005), which demonstrates the level of influence expressed through the ‘family’ discourse.’
“It was very rushed”
A 1996 study by Dinham and Scott (1996) found that only 38% of respondents (n=529) within that research project felt that their ITE programs “…adequately prepared [them] for teaching” (p. 10). Eighteen years later and low levels of preparedness to teach, in this context, art education, are still being seen, this time within the emergent ‘self-efficacy’ discourse as expressed by the participants throughout our conversations as part of this research project:
Jean: The one I’m most scared about I think is music. I just don’t have the ear for it….I can’t compose anything, I’m really lame…[but] but I feel like I don’t really know what I’m talking about?
All three participants appear to have come to inhabit particular subjectivities vis-à-vis art education self-efficacy as a result of their ITE programs. Even Justin, who of the three participants appears to have had the most positive subjectivity in relation to art education prior to undertaking the ITE program, comments that
…there needs to be more of it, like, for our k-6 creative arts [course], it was only eight weeks, where it could’ve easily gone for the twelve weeks.
The ‘self-efficacy’ discourse that emerges from these conversations is concerning, when it is taken into consideration that it was found ten years ago that teachers who indicated a high use of arts within their pedagogical practice also demonstrated a high level of self-efficacy relating to creativity (Oreck, 2004), a finding supported by Ewing (2010) and studies in the relationship between self-efficacy and pedagogical practice (Garvis, 2009; Garvis & Pendergast, 2011; Kagan, 1992; Plourde, 2002; Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). The ‘self-efficacy’ discourse that emerged from the literature also indicated there is a view that ITE programs are too theoretical (SEETRC, 1998), a finding echoed by Clare:
We didn’t have the pedagogy side of it, and I think if we had been given more pedagogy instructions, within the format of KLAs, we would’ve seen more cross-curricular activity going on generally and art would have found its way into that.
Clare’s ‘self-efficacy’ discourse here indicates that improved self-efficacy will come from, or be facilitated by, additional pedagogical instruction to provide the pedagogical knowledge and skills to include art education within her own pedagogical practice. Oreck (2004) concurs, writing that becoming an art specialist with theoretical knowledge should not be the purpose of teachers’ art education, but that the focus should be on providing teachers with the pedagogical skills and knowledge to be able to include art education within their pedagogical practice. This pedagogical training narrative within the ‘self-efficacy’ discourse demonstrates the relationship between self-efficacy and pedagogical knowledge and skills that is echoed by Justin:
…I can imagine if someone didn’t do the creative arts as a discipline depth study, they would be less comfortable and they wouldn’t have that deeper understanding of how to teach the arts, and what’s involved in the arts.
All three participants talked about the need for more time to be spent on art education as part of their ‘self-efficacy’ discourse. Probing deeper, however, reveals that the ‘self-efficacy’ discourse is more about the need for further art education pedagogical training as part of their ITE programs. This reading of the emergent ‘self-efficacy’ discourse is supported by the National education and the arts statement (Barr, Bishop et al., 2005), which notes that developing and then maintaining the skills and knowledge for the implementation of art education in pedagogical practice is essential and must be provided within ITE programs and subsequent professional development. The particular line of thought regarding the ‘self-efficacy’ discourse can also be identified within the research, where it has been recognised there is a need for further arts pedagogical training within both ITE programs and on-going professional development (Krash, 1954; Oreck, 2004).
This is particularly relevant, given that it has been observed that although involvement in the arts can result in the taking up of subject positions that ascribe a positive ‘value’ to the arts, that prior involvement in the arts has been identified as not being a significant indicator in the use of art education in pedagogical practice (Oreck, 2004). Thinking about the ‘self-efficacy’ discourse in this vain leads to the consideration of the art education pedagogical strategies and techniques to which pre-service teachers are exposed during their ITE programs, and how these discursively construct pre-service teachers’ subjectivities about art education.
“…I feel like he expected we already had background knowledge…”
The participants, during the course of their ITE programs, have been exposed to pedagogical practices in two forms; the pedagogy used by their university lecturers and tutors, and the pedagogy used by their cooperating teachers whilst on practicum. It has already been observed that there are concerns over the ratio of theoretical education and practical education within ITE programs (Dinham & Scott, 1996), and the ‘self-efficacy’ discourse which has emerged from the narratives appears to be itself discursively constructed by the ‘pedagogy’ discourse.
Jean’s statement, when talking about one of her art education tutors indicates that as pre-service teachers they were assumed to have a certain level of background knowledge by the tutor, and that his pedagogical choices reflected this assumption:
I feel like Bob kind of over complicated it used too much terminology for people who have never really been musically inclined before…so he assumed we knew this, this, this and this, and we’re like ‘what the hell does that even mean?’ So he’d rush through, explain it, and before we could even write it down, he’s wiping it off the board already.
When recollecting this particular tutor’s pedagogy, frustration comes through in Jean’s voice, frustration which is reinforced when she stated that
I found Bob’s lessons [pause] I just couldn’t value them. I didn’t like them. I didn’t like how he taught, and I didn’t like what he was teaching
Later in the interview, Jean elaborated further on her view of pedagogical training for art education during the ITE program when she said that
…if people had maybe a little bit more training in the creative arts, you’d probably see it a bit more.
Jean’s comments suggest that she felt the pedagogical training for art education that she received during the ITE program was insufficiently focused on the practical aspect of implementing the pedagogy, which is consistent with Dinham & Scott’s (1996) findings as noted above. The implication from Jean’s statement is that there is a relationship between pedagogical training, self-efficacy and the use of arts in pedagogical practice, which is accordant with Oreck’s (2004) findings. Conversely, when discussing the same tutor, Justin expressed that he found Bob’s pedagogical strategies to be not only valuable, but transferable into his own pedagogical repertoire. This reinforces the impact on pre-service teachers’ subjectivities vis-à-vis art education that the ‘pedagogy’ discourse can have.
Pre-service teachers are exposed to varying ‘pedagogy’ discourses from their cooperating teachers whilst undertaking the ITE program mandatory practicums. Schools are made up of many different teachers and support staff, each of whom will have their own subject positions vis-à-vis art education as a result of their negotiation of the multiple discordant discourses that they have been exposed to, and accordingly, each teacher’s expression of the ‘pedagogy’ discourse will be different (Davies, 2004; Kagan, 1992). Pre-service teachers, including the research project’s participants, negotiate their way through these varying ‘pedagogy’ discourses, either rejecting them, or taking them up, subsuming them into their subjectivities.
Jean, in recollecting the ‘pedagogy’ discourses that she encountered during her practicum placements describes the expression of one cooperating teacher’s ‘pedagogy’ discourse
Jean: …the teacher would…mark their artworks and write feedback on their artworks. And [pause] she was a very artistic woman, and some of the kids just weren’t artistic, they weren’t up there, so [she] would be a bit harsh in what she says and I feel like [pause]…
Jean, observing this expression of a ‘pedagogy’ discourse by her cooperating teacher, and from within her subject position, ‘took up’ the subject position that marking artworks and providing feedback on the artwork from an art-skill perspective was demoralising for the students, a stance to which she returned and elaborated further when explaining that in her view, the ‘pedagogy’ discourse to which people are subjected to in their own primary or secondary education is the reason that art education was seen as ‘scary’ by some people.
Clare’s subject position vis-à-vis art education has also been discursively shaped by the ‘pedagogy’ discourses that she has observed during her practicum placements. Clare relates that her cooperating teacher was an assistant principal in the school she was situated in, and was highly encouraging of the arts and was directing the school concert that was in production at the time. This expression of a ‘pedagogy’ discourse was positive in its influence on Clare’s subject position and her use of art education in her own pedagogical choices:
I’m hoping tomorrow that red panda is going to come out and some shopping with me, and we’ll be puppets in class, because I think the kids’ll love it… they’ll be having a really good time, but they’ll be learning…
The ‘pedagogy’ discourses observed here demonstrate that pedagogies expressed through both action and verbal or written communication can be either deleterious or positive in their effects. This view is shared by Plourde (2002), who writes that cultivation or discouragement of a teacher’s practices occurs primarily during the early experiences of an ITE program.
“…I believed that art…”
The ‘family, ‘self-efficacy’ and ‘pedagogy’ discourses which emerged from the conversations with the participants are each important in their own right in the discursive constitution of subjectivities vis-à-vis art education and pedagogical practices. However, from the discourse analysis, it seems clear that the underlying factor in the discursive constitution of the participants’ subjectivities at the conclusion of their ITE programs is the ‘value’ discourses to which they have been exposed throughout their studies.
The pedagogical choices that pre-service teachers make can be seen as being informed by the ‘value’ discourse to which they subscribe and have taken-up within their own subject position about art education. This view is supported by Kagan (1992), who found that teaching styles across any age or subject tend to be consistent with the teacher’s subject position. The ‘value’ discourse can also be seen underlying the ‘self-efficacy’ discourse. The quantity of art education and arts pedagogical instruction provided to pre-service teachers within their ITE programs is continually being pared back (Gibson & Anderson, 2008). This has been perceived as a result of the many and varied ‘value’ discourses that are enacted on tertiary institutions and planners of ITE programs (Oreck, 2004). Additionally, the perceived lack of art education and arts pedagogical training identified by the participants in this research project has also been identified as limiting the capacity of graduate teachers (Gibson & Anderson, 2008). Gibson & Anderson (2008) postulate that the low ‘value’ discourse of art education is unlikely to change whilst there is little art education and art pedagogical training for pre-service teachers.
Having identified the ‘value’ discourse as informing the subject positions held by the research participants during our conversations, and understanding that subjectivities can be constituted through conflicting discourses, it would seem apparent that the ‘value’ discourse is implicated as the biggest barrier to art education being implemented in teachers’ pedagogical practice. My reading of the discourse analysis and the literature review would suggest that increasing the take up of the positive ‘value’ discourse might influence the pedagogical choices made by current in-service teachers and by those teachers responsible for delivering ITE programs. However, this is a complex and long-term issue that is not likely to be addressed whilst the ‘back to basics’ rhetoric is being propagated by the federal government (Cullen, 2014; Donnelly, 2007; Donnelly & Wiltshire, 2014; Pyne, 2011, 2014). Overcoming the negative ‘value’ discourse will require the embedding of the ideals contained within the National education and the arts statement (Barr, Bishop et al., 2005).
The process can, and should, start within ITE programs, as “…the ultimate responsibility for improving teaching lies with individual faculty members” (Paulsen and Feldman, 1995 as cited in Rice & Roychoudhury, 2003, p. 98). Increasing the take-up of positive subjectivities vis-à-vis the ‘value’ discourse could then have a flow on effect, with increased use of art education pedagogical practice by graduate teachers, creating a generation of students with positive subjectivities in relation to art education, which would then potentially continue with each successive generation. However, it must be noted that a discursively constituted subject position regarding the type of teacher one wishes to be may be severely challenged upon entry into the in-service workforce, where becoming and remaining the type of teacher desired can be more difficult than expected as a result of the increasing centralisation of teaching in Australia which has led to the prescription of the content to be taught within a prescribed curriculum (Garvis, 2009).
Well done if you read through all of that. I had forgotten how long that chapter was. There are lots of areas of questioning that when I look back now I wish I had explored further during the interviews, or had had the word-count to explore more fully in the dissertation itself.