29 SES 04, The neoliberalization of arts education: resistance and critique
There are several steps of children’s education, beginning with the orality, passing through visual images for exemplification (recognition of the reality by showing examples of animals, environments, plants, feelings and etc. that will form an idea of the world) and following to more conceptual notions through words. Bruno Duborgel said that the books, as a tool for the learning, initially are full of images and gradually, with the growing of the child, loses them for the text that substitutes their place (Duborgel, 1992, p. 21). This method is related with the idea that an adult doesn’t need images to understand and define the reality and that the text has a more important role in our lives, just like there are mistakenly more important subjects in the school (math and mother tongue) and that the others exist for entertainment (expressions), as commonly thought. But this idea also reflects that the pictures/illustrations are dependent of the words/texts, as if they aren’t able to “say” more or “other thinds” in a different manner.
The inclusion of the picturebooks as a visual method in education for children has a background laid on the 16thcentury, beginning with the Jobst Amman’s picturebook entitled “Kunstbuchlin. Kunst und Lehrbuchlein fur die anfahenden Jungen Daraus reissen und Malen zu lernen Darinnen allerley Art lustige - Art and Instruction for Young People from Which they may learn to learn Sketching and Painting”(Whalley & Chester, 1988, p. 12). The approach to the theme of death for children, in an ambient where the death was a constant shadow that accompanied all the families, through illustrated books begins supposedly with the book “A Token for Children: An Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of several Young Children”of James Janeway (1671). This book was reprinted for two centuries, which meant that it was important for the society to use it as a tool for education (for death and as an exemplification of lives that were worthy to remember). However, after the Industrial Revolution the theme of death began to be avoided in conversations with children in the middle-class as an attempt to protect and to form a sensation of comfort and security and in a narcissistic system (Freud, 2010, p. 25; Kastenbaum, n/d). Even the tales, that originally had an end with death as the “Little Red Riding Hood” from Charles Perrault, who registered the story from the oral tradition in 1697 (Contos Completos (Irmãos Grimm), 2013, p. 911), had the ending being changed in the next centuries. The Brothers Grimm, for example, finish the tale in 1812 with the salvation of the Little Red Riding Hood and grandmother. Nowadays, the wolf gets killed by the Little Red Riding Hood (a picturebook of Marjolaine Leray, 2009) reversing the meaning of the story and attitudes related with death.
The aim of my research, related with my PhD thesis, lays on the will to understand in the western world:
- how the picturebooks and illustrations were (and still are) used as a didactic tool for the children;
- what was the history of the picturebooks that had the objective to introduce the death;
- what ideas had in mind the artists/educators/publishers by creating the picturebooks about death;
- what influences these picturebooks had in the feelings of the children/adults;
- and how the idea and image of death was (and is being) shaped in our society.
The artistic and conceptual exploration of the idea of death through picturebooks is part of my PhD research, where I have selected the picturebooks that were printed in Portugal in the 21st century and that deal directly with the theme of death. These picturebooks, that were selected also because the author and illustrator are the same person, are: - “A ilha do avô” Benji Davies (2017 ); - “Queridos extintos” Arianna Papini (2014); - “O Anjo da Guarda do Avô” Jutta Bauer (2014 ); - “O coração e a garrafa” Oliver Jeffers (2010); - “A carícia da borboleta” Christian Voltz (2008 ); - “O livro da avó” Luís Silva (2007); - “O sapo e o canto do melro” Max Velthuijs (2003 ). The strategy adopted in the analysis of the picturebooks was based in experience of analysis of authors like Jane Doonan (Doonan, 2008 ), Maria Nikolajeva & Carole Scott (Nikolajeva & Scott, 2001), Michéle Anstey (Anstey, 2008), Claire Painter, J. R. Martin e Len Unsworth (Painter, Martin, & Unsworth, 2012), but beginning with my own method, where I followed the following steps: a) Reading the illustrations without the words; b) Reading the text; c) Reading the relation between the visual and textual narratives. Some interviews to the illustrators and publisher will be recorded for the understanding of their ideas of creation and publishing. Searching for picturebooks that talked about death in the other centuries and searching for the first public libraries with a section designated to children are goals that will help the understanding of the construction the idea and images of death.
There are several expected outcomes in my PhD research, but I can affirm that the construction of a history of the death education through the illustration, and specifically through the picturebooks, is one of the aims. Understanding how the relation of the images with the texts in a picturebook, that talks about or shows death, can be understood as an aesthetic experience that transmits values, beliefs, wonderings to our life is another goal. Asking illustrators and publishers about the reasons for these publishing, wondering about what coincidences (like a death in a family or an international award given to the picturebook, for example) influenced them, is another task. In the last 20 years the publishing of picturebooks that talk and/or show death has grown so much that influences how the children and adults are taught to think about one of the greatest taboos in our society. In my paper I will focus on the exemplification on one of the picturebooks’ analyses, in an attempt to show the relations between this kind of art and literature that will influence the learning of the images and concepts related with death. Since death is related with the imagination (we experience always the death of the other), according to Gonçalo M. Tavares (Tavares, 2013, pp. 408-410), aren’t the picturebooks an example that shows the imagination of our society?
Anstey, M. (2008). Postmodern Picturebook as Artefact. Developing Tools for an Archaeological Dig. In L. R. Sipe & S. Pantaleo (Eds.), Postmodern Picturebooks. Play, Parody, and Self-Referentiality (pp. 147-163). New York, London: Taylor & Francis. Contos Completos (Irmãos Grimm). (2013). (F. V. d. S. (Coord.) Ed.). Lisboa: Temas e Debates. Doonan, J. (2008 ). Looking at Pictures in Picture Books. Woodchester: The Thimble Press. Duborgel, B. (1992). Imaginário e pedagogia. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget. Freud, S. (2010). Introdução ao narcisismo, ensaios de metapsicologia e outros textos (1914-1916) (P. C. d. S. (Org.) Ed. Vol. 12): Companhia das Letras. Kastenbaum, R. (n/d). Children and Adolescents' Understanding of Death. Retrieved from http://www.deathreference.com/Ce-Da/Children-and-Adolescents-Understanding-of-Death.html Nikolajeva, M., & Scott, C. (2001). How Picturebooks Work. New York: Taylor & Francis. Painter, C., Martin, J. R., & Unsworth, L. (2012). Reading Visual Narratives. Image Analysis in Children’s Picture Books. Sheffield & Bristol: Equinox Publishing Ltd. Tavares, G. M. (2013). Atlas do corpo e da imaginação. Teoria, fragmentos e imagens. Alfragide: Editorial Caminho. Whalley, J. I., & Chester, T. R. (1988). A History of Children's Book Illustration. London: John Murray with the Victoria & Albert Museum.
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