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Exploring the potential for arts-rich education in the primary classroom: teacher Learning, transformation, and new trajectories.
Grennan, Mary
Since the foundation of a national system of primary education in 1831, curricular reforms – in the guise of the Revised Programme of Instruction (1900), Curaclam na Bunscoile (1971), and the Primary School Curriculum (1999) – have succeeded in both broadening the definition and increasing the status of the arts in schools. However while these curricula each presented the arts disciplines as an integral component of primary education, the dearth of sustained professional development to support teachers in their implementation meant that the commendable aspirations of these reforms were never fully realised. The importance of the arts within education has, however, been reaffirmed with the recent publication of the Arts-in-Education Charter (2013). This Charter – presented as a “formative step” towards situating the arts “at the core of our education system” – proposes to “incentivise and recognise” those schools which make the arts a key part of school life with the introduction of an Arts-Rich Schools scheme. In this publication the DES has promoted the concept of an arts-rich school without defining clearly what such a school would look like, or what teaching and learning would look like in such a school. It is a document that focuses predominantly on arts-in-education experiences, and is deficient in both actionable guidelines for teachers and commitments to their professional development. Teachers, however, play a central role in realising successful changes in education. Inspired by this proposed scheme the aim of this research was to explore, collaboratively with a community of teachers, the potential for arts-rich education in the primary classroom. How might teachers be empowered to develop an arts-rich classroom? What are the characteristics of such a learning environment? To address these questions a qualitative study, utilising collaborative action-research, was designed. A small Professional Learning Community (PLC), comprised of five primary teachers, was formed. Data collected between September 2015 and June 2016 included audio-recordings of PLC meetings, teachers’ reflective journals, photographs, classroom observations, individual interviews, and messages sent via WhatsApp. Analysis of the data indicates that: developing an arts-rich classroom is an ongoing process that must be sustained over time and supported by ongoing professional learning and support; arts-rich education comprises not alone high-quality teaching in the arts but meaningful teaching through the arts; and that teaching through the arts has the potential to democratise the learning process by diminishing barriers to academic content posed by language or text-heavy media. This study further indicates that there is considerable potential in the development of PLCs as a vehicle for teachers’ professional development in the arts.
Keyword(s): Education; Teaching
Publication Date:
Type: Other
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): Ní Bhroin, Máire; Murphy, Regina
Institution: Dublin City University
Citation(s): Grennan, Mary (2017) Exploring the potential for arts-rich education in the primary classroom: teacher Learning, transformation, and new trajectories. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
Publisher(s): Dublin City University. Institute of Education
File Format(s): application/pdf
Related Link(s):
First Indexed: 2017-11-14 06:05:27 Last Updated: 2019-02-09 06:12:54