Editorial for a special conference issue of the journal. The iJADE conference in November 2017 took place in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin. The conference theme chosen was ‘Art and design as agent for change’, since social justice has become a growing focus for many educators and practitioners in the visual arts, and the idea of art and design education having agency in the process of social chance has gained traction. All of the papers in this issue are written by delegates from the conference who, by popular demand, were invited to write up their presentations for publication in the journal.
Creativity is making a comeback in teaching. The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) draws our attention to this in its recent focus on classroom creativity. Creativity, when considered on any large, systemic scale, is associated with collaboration, and collaboration between schools and teachers is a primary condition for creativity to flourish. Creative approaches to teaching and learning, and the unique role that the creative arts play in this, should be returned centre stage. Just as the question of creativity is never settled, nor is the question of education; living with this ambiguity should be embraced, rather than disguised.
This special issue of iJADE is devoted to the art education of young children, and provides a timely platform for the dissemination of new research in this important area. For many young children their artistic experiences can prove to be some of the most profound and insightful of their early education. Although these creative moments are frequently integrated with a multitude of other educational experiences, nonetheless the artistic ones have a singularity, making them unique within the educational experience as a whole. It is the predominance of a visual epistemology that provides this specificity, and it hardly needs stating that knowing by means of the visual is of profound importance in our contemporary societies. The demonstration and the parole of this ‘knowing’ by young children should not be seen as peripheral, or as an adjunct to education. Fundamental to a well-informed art education are the critical expression of meaning and purpose, no matter how tentative these might appear. These practices entail a critical engagement with the languages of visual imagery, to which children readily adapt.
At a time of endemic xenophobia some artists have attempted to resistance by depicting its damaging consequences, revealing the inequalities that fuel its disfigurement of human relations and discourse, and which have now resulted in mass human displacement. Paul Dash’s recent paintings of refugees attempting dangerous and degrading sea crossings are the main subject of this paper, and these works are discussed in the context of his negative educational experiences as a child, and his salvation through painting in the sanctuary of his school’s art room. This school experience and the trajectory of his artistic career are contextualised by the current marginalisation of the arts in the curriculum and the increasing scarcity of critical and creative approaches to education.
Owens, Allan; Adams, Jeff (Hong Kong Federation, 2016-12-02)
This feature article is a response to the question " Can anyone be creative?"In dialogue with the Editor of the Hong Kong Youth Journal Elaine Morgan the argument is made that it is possible given the right environment. The significance of the creative arts in the establishment of social justice in education is highlighted.
This article is concerned with design applied to gardens, using examples from the Chelsea Flower Show in London. There is a discussion of those show gardens that represented Syrian refugees’ gardens in Iraq and the Windrush generation immigration to the UK. The garden designs combine the aesthetics of organic materials and spatial architecture with an implicit critique of topical contemporary social issues. The article concludes by commenting on the risks posed by the reduced and impoverished UK arts education policies for producing the next generation of applied design practitioners.
Adams, Jeff; Bailey, Rowan; Walton, Neil (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017-06-19)
The National Arts Education Archive (NAEA) is housed and maintained by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), managed by YSP coordinators and educators with a well-established volunteer programme. This year, 2017, as part of the celebrations of the YSP’s 40th anniversary, the Archive will hold its own exhibition entitled Treasures Revealed: a collection of items selected by people who have been involved in the Archive, whether as donors, volunteers, researchers, artists, trustees or steering group members. In parallel with the exhibition, this paper aims to give voice to a selection of individuals and groups associated with the Archive, discussing their interests and experiences of it, and their thoughts on its value and importance as a repository of arts education materials, ideals and practices. Our primary motivations were to consider these different voices in relation to the purpose, direction and relevance of the NAEA today. These exchanges raise fundamental questions and debates about what art education is and what it might become, and how these historical collections, and creative engagements with it, might help to shape our contemporary thinking.
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