ART AND DESIGN: AN INTRODUCTION
The unique nature of Art and Design
In many ways Art and Design tends to stand apart from other curricular areas. Primarily, it differs from other subjects in the unique way in which children communicate their ideas i.e. in a VISUAL way. However, this subject is often considered apart because it is seen being not as important as other curricular areas or is simply viewed as a time for finishing off tasks left over from other parts of the curriculum.
If exploited properly, Art and Design can provide excellent opportunities for children to express themselves in a unique way. Not only that, through Art and Design, skills more often associated with literacy, science or history can be developed thus complementing other subject areas.
What should we be aiming for?
Art and Design should offer opportunities for children to:
• Stimulate their creativity and imagination by providing visual, tactile and sensory experiences • Understand and respond to the world in a unique manner • Develop their understanding of line, shape, colour, form, tone, texture, pattern, perspective, image and media • Develop their ability to use materials and processes to convey feelings, meanings and ideas • Explore the ideas and meanings behind works of famous artists and designers • Learn about the different functions of art and design in their own lives and throughout history • Learn how to make thoughtful judgements and aesthetic practical decisions • Learn how to criticise constructively and accept criticism from peers • Become actively involved in shaping their school, home and local environment
How should the teaching of Art and Design progress through primary?
Art and design should above all be stimulating for the children. The aim should be to develop children’s imagination through providing art, craft and design activities that in the first years of primary should relate to children’s own identities and experiences.
During the second and third cycles of primary, the teacher should be aiming at developing the child’s creativity and imagination by building on knowledge, skills and understanding through more complex activities. Children’s experiences help them to develop a wider understanding of the roles of art and design in the wider world.
Should we use a text book?
As in all subject areas, textbooks can be a useful resource for getting ideas. However, the very nature of art and design and its emphasis on creativity and the need to experiment with diverse techniques and materials makes following a textbook as the only input a very limiting experience. With the advent of the Internet, it is possible to find a wealth of information for teachers, great lesson plans and most exciting of all, the chance to tour the world’s museums virtually! With such technology at our fingertips it seems a shame to concentrate our efforts on a two-dimensional and mono-material resource. Furthermore, if a cross-curricular approach is being implemented throughout primary, it could be difficult to find the material needed in a textbook to complement the topic.
How can language skills be developed through Art and design? Language skills form a very important part of Art and Design especially when children have to form a critical opinion. For example speaking and listening skills are developed through activities such as: • Practising functional language e.g. asking for materials • Discussing the steps involved in carrying out the task • Evaluating the best materials to use and techniques to employ • Describing a picture and making a personal response to it • Making comparisons between art works
• Making a judgement about a child’s own piece of work, a friend’s or an artist’s • Making an evaluation about a child’s own design or that of others • Making...