29 SES 03, Arts Education and Childhood
The aim of the present paper is to outline aspects of the nature of the after-school visual art activities for primary students (aged 6-8). It focuses on the importance of after-school art education for the children's future development as all-round individuals, and on the raising of their aesthetic awareness. Drawing on the theories of art evaluation (Barrett T., 2000; Carroll N., 2009) and art perception (Zimmer, R., 2003) as well as on official documents related to after-school organization, the paper describes the different organizational practices within the after-school educational system in Finland as drafted in the Framework for Before- and After-School Activities in Basic Education (Finnish National Board of Education, 2011). It explores the place of visual art education as part of the after-school care system and as a complement to the general art education in school, and views the after-school art activities in relation to the postmodern aesthetics of present day (Lyotard, J-F., 1999; Neperud R., 1995; Efland, A., 1992). The development of technologies in the last two decades turned the visual image into a ubiquitous and overwhelming power, shaping our perceptions of the world and our social relations. This situation, more than ever before, necessitates additional guidance through the multi-coloured "visual jungle" of our times so as to channel the visual perception of every person and to enhance the formation of taste. Art education, following the curriculum, aims at achieving these tasks, providing the students with the necessary visual tools to grasp the images encoded in their environment, but is often limited in the sense that, by definition, it seeks predicted learning results and encourages students to follow creative paths that will lead to the achievement of a uniform level of perception and expression for the whole class. This is really crucial for the shaping of basic skills, for acquiring knowledge of the world, and for gaining general aesthetic experience. But art by default seeks the unpredictable. It is about the different, the creative, the innovative. And this is where the after-school and extracurricular activities come into play. Bearing in mind that after-school activities are optional and often part of the students’ leisure time, their primary purpose is to “guide children to gradually grow into a healthy, active and sustainable lifestyle” (Finnish National Board of Education, 2011) in today’s technological and multicultural environment. Therefore it is important to take into account all factors that affect the students’ learning process during the after-school hours so as to be able to devise appropriate teaching programs which support the students in their perception of the world and at the same time provide relaxation and bring self-fulfillment.
Based on observations of the practices in Finish and International schools in the Helsinki region,the following research questions will be addressed:
1. What is the role of the various after-school activities in the Finnish schools for the student’s development in general?
2. What are the different organizational forms of after-school care in Finland?
3. What is the place of visual art education in after-school care in Finland? What are its objectives? How do they meet the requirements for visual education within the curriculum as well as within the framework of today’s postmodern world?
Barrett T., 2000, Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary, New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill companies, Inc. Carroll N., 2009, On Criticism, London: Routledge Efland, A., 1992, Curriculum problems at century's end: art education and postmodernism, in Power of Images, Liisa Piironen (Ed.), Finland, InSEA Finnish National Board of Education ,2004, Finnish National Core Curricula for Basic Education, Finland Finnish National Board of Education , 2011, National Framework for Before- and After-School Activities in Basic Education, Finland Lyotard, J-F., 1999, "Introduction to The Postmodern condition", Art in Theory: An Anthology of Changing Ideas 1900-1990, Harrison, C., Wood, P., Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers Inc. Neperud R. ed., 1995, Context, Content and Community in Art Education Beyond Postmodernism, Teachers College Zimmer, R., 2003, Abstraction in art with implications for perception, Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci Volume: 358, Issue: 1435, Date: 2003 Jul 29, Pages: 1285-91
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