29 SES 02, Challenging times: educating art educators in the present
The presentation will focus on a Master of Teacher Training in the Visual Arts that is a joint program of the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Psychology and the Sciences of Education in Porto, Portugal. The master exists for more than ten years now and it is according to the law that defines the 'professionalization' of the teacher in a certain field, in this case, the visual arts.
I will focus on the subjects that i have been responsible for in the last 9 years (some of them with other colleagues) and, particularly, on the questions: what means to be an arts teacher in contemporaneity? Which tensions are opened in the training of the future arts teachers regarding the curriculum of the arts and the global educational agendas? How do we approach the idea of an 'arts didactics' not as a way of solving problems, or of translating a specific subject according to apprioristic notions about the student, coming from psychology and pedagogy? How do we activate an idea of critique? How can we resist the inevitabilities and contingencies that define what means to be a good teacher and the so-called good practices? How can we imagine the task of the student/teacher/researcher as a contra-dispositive in terms of the times we are living in (a time without time in which we are being made as entrepreneurs of our selves; education measured according to effectiveness and specific a priori goals; education as an antecamera to the economic and labor worlds)?
Arts education is here configured as a time and space not properly to 'teach' the arts, being it technically, or through consensual galleries of genius that make the western history of art, but as the problematization of these perspectives. To this end, the Foucaultian notion of a history of the present is essential in order to understand what makes the present an event made up of multiple historical layers. In these historical layers is inscribed the emergence of the problems that today seem to be consensual in the different uses of the arts in education: the instrumental approach; the rhetorical approach of the art effects; the art for the arts's sake perspective; the developmental approach of teaching the arts; the arts as an exceptional and apart world.
The analysis takes the work developed in these years and seeks to address the starting points, the transformations and the challenges that have been established in different subjects. I will try to evidence the work zones as triggers that allow to make platforms of discussion and work with the students. The idea of critique (Foucault, 2007) is key in order to develop a position on how not to be governed in a certain way. The classroom formats are based on a mixture of seminar and peer-to-peer work, establishing a horizontal discussion that activates alternative ways of looking at, and positioning ourselves, in the educational field of arts. The archives being established as a matter of work include mainly texts, the arts curriculum, but also films or artworks, and aim to contextualize historically certain ways of looking, seeing and saying in order to denaturalize practices and routines, opening the possibility of thinking the (im)possibilities of our own discourse, and confronting different images about education, the teacher, the student and the places and missions of the arts in education. In this master, students often come to our classrooms with the desire to learn techniques, ways of teaching that allow the transformation of a previous training that they carry in the field of arts, to the field education. They also carry the desire to save education through the arts. That is where the confrontation begins. Our search is for a space that calls into question the idea of a set of tools and pedagogical theories capable of translating art into education, and the greater confrontation of showing the impossibility of teaching art as the potentiality of arts education. We also question how the arts are made as exceptional and without question, and how this making involves power/knowledge relations that have exclusionary effects. The very idea of 'didactics' is subject to a thorough questioning aimed at detonating principles commonly seen as a way of teaching a certain content to children, according to a linear progression of development. One of the questions that is put as a starting point is the tension between art and education. Usually we tend to make this relationship pacific. However, if we know that the arts do not exist in school, but are just an 'alchemy' (Popkewitz, 1987) (C. s. Martins & Popkewitz, 2015), what does it means to think about the artist-teacher in educational contexts?
When we begin to analyze each of the questions posed by the students, the first effort is to understand the reasonableness of the question itself. Why does a teacher asks about the best techniques or strategies to keep students motivated? Why not to ask why education is thought from motivation or effectiveness? Why is it questioned about the appropriation of a certain content in accordance to a specific age group? Why to imagine the appropriateness of proposals according to how students are classified in the face of learning problems? Why are these classifications, and how they produce particular types of students, rarely questioned? The paper aims to think about what does it means to 'train' a student to be an arts teacher and tries to argue that the task of questioning has to be accompanied by a field of problematization and critique. It tries to open up alternatives to the current views on education, and the arts in education (from instrumentalization to a rhetoric of effects (Gaztambide-Fernández, 2013) (Martins, 2018)), and argues that future art teachers must acknowledge the history of common sensical ideas on education and its inevitabilities. In a way, it tries to deconstruct an education gospel (Grubb & Lazerson, 2004) that today is permeatted by notions such as creativity, entrepreneurship, effectiveness, assessment, etc.
Foucault, M. (2007). What is Critique? In S. Lotringer (Ed.), The Politics of Truth (pp. 41–81). Los Angeles: Semiotext(e). Gaztambide-Fernández, R. (2013). Why the arts don’t do anything: toward a new vision for cultural production in education. Harvard Educational Review, 83(1), 211–236. Grubb, N., & Lazerson, M. (2004). The Education Gospel. The Economic Power of Schooling. CAmbridge and London: Harvard University Press. Martins, C. S. (2018). The Alchemies of the Arts in Education. Problematizing Some of the Ingredients of the Recipe. In B. Jörissen, L. Klepacki, T. Klepacki, V. Flasche, J. Engel, & L. Unterberg (Eds.), Spectra of Transformation (pp. 41–57). Munster and New York: Waxmann. Martins, C. s., & Popkewitz, T. S. (2015). The ‘eventualizing’ of arts education. Sisyphus – Journal of Education. Retrieved from http://revistas.rcaap.pt/sisyphus/article/view/7727 Popkewitz, T. S. (1987). The Formation of School Subjects and the Political Context of Schooling. In T. S. Popkewitz (Ed.), The Formation of the School Subjects. The Struggle for Creating an American Institution (pp. 1–24). New York, Philadelphia and London: The Falmer Press.
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