Does Arts Education have a Future in Australia Against Literacy and Numeracy?

By Susanne Garvis and Donna Pendergast.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Arts education is considered a compulsory part of the school curriculum in Queensland, Australia. Many generalist teachers throughout the state are responsible for its delivery to students. Yet the teaching that occurs in generalist classrooms appears to be dictated by policy reform. In 2007, the Australian government began a National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. In Queensland, teaching for literacy and numeracy was further influenced in schools by the commissioned Masters report (2009). Further testing for literacy, numeracy and science would be carried out in years 4, 6 and 8 within Queensland. The influence of these policy initiatives on the teaching of arts education in schools is unclear. While arts shares equal footing as a key learning area, its actual importance in schools may be substantially lower. This paper helps to provide a current snapshot of the influence of this government reform. In 2008, 201 beginning teachers responded to a questionnaire investigating their personal beliefs and values of teaching arts education compared to maths and English. This study reports on parts of those findings. Results suggest beginning teachers were persuaded to teach English and maths by their schools to improve test results. Subsequently, some beginning teachers suggested they changed their teaching styles of arts integration to more traditional models. Findings hold key messages for the future of arts education and integration in schools. If schools and governments value arts education, they need to provide greater support for the teaching of arts education alongside literacy and numeracy.

Keywords: Arts Eduction, Teacher Self-efficacy, Generalist Teachers

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.111-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 621.120KB).

Dr. Susanne Garvis

Lecturer, School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith Universiy, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The main focus of my work at Griffith Univrsiy has been the professional development of pre-service teachers. My research and teaching interests include teacher education and arts education, with a particular interest in music. I am currently undertaking a PhD study into the development of beginning teacher self-efficacy beliefs in arts and music education.

Prof. Donna Pendergast

Head of School, School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Associate Professor Donna Pendergast has conducted a number of national research projects of significance including “Beyond the Middle”, which investigated literacy and numeracy in middle schooling; and “Lifelong Learning and Middle Schooling”. She has completed an evaluation of the Education Queensland Virtual Schooling Service and is often employed as a consultant to review school reform initiatives. Donna has several books published of relevance to contemporary teacher work, including Teaching the Middle Years; The Millennial Adolescent; and Groovy Chicks and Blokey Blokes. Donna is highly sought after as a speaker on the topic of the MilGen and teaching, and has completed several intergenerational studies in content areas.

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