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Putting the “critical” into critical studies in art education

Scott, Helen (2014) Putting the “critical” into critical studies in art education. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This study aims to examine critical studies in secondary art and design education; to question its teaching practices, content and purposes, with a view to proposing how these elements might work more critically. A broadly qualitative methodology is adopted, that draws on elements of a number of approaches including action research, interpretivism and naturalistic enquiry that claim to enable understanding of practice from practitioners’ points of view. The study is indebted to Bourdieu’s work; his concepts, including habitus, capital and field are used as ‘tools to think with’ enabling the possibility of opening up practice, of getting beneath taken for granted ways of acting and to “strain” interpretation of students’ views. Adopting a Bourdieuian frame also encouraged reflexivity throughout the study. The study initially uses questionnaires to explore a number of personal, initial “hunches” that have been acquired from my own experiences of students destined to become art and design teachers. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with student teachers; from these emerged the phenomena of an “in-between” position. The study goes on to argue that this position, where identity is in a state of flux may enable more critical interventions or enactments in art and design education. The study concludes by suggesting that although art and design education occurs within locations of constraints and structures, nevertheless, those involved in initial teacher education in art and design – including students, school mentors and university tutors - are all differently, but importantly placed to make critical studies teaching more critical.

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