FACING NEW FRONTIER: An Art and Design Trained Teacher Experience with a reflection on Nigeria’s art and design education policy; 1959 legacy.
There is emergence increase in demand for further education in art and design which could be distinguished from the past, a curriculum for life “school for a democratic society,” Teaching method and application became relevant and art and design took a new form, redefinition, re-organisation and restructuration of the curriculum with simplicity was attained. Art and design therefore, assumed the lead. In this sense, Art and Design and other subjects in relation to art using sourced materials were taught for the purpose of developing new type of skills in schools.
From there, modern art and design teaching role took a position that the new methods are unavoidably products of intellectual and outlined technical conditions of 1959 upward. On a practical and theoretical scale, art and design concentrated on economical solutions to achieve the most purpose of human needs with least means resources at an affordable cost. Mass training, rather than natural child’s centred were primary preference as they could be train to meet specific needs. Standards were to a certain level of quality, more conventional and subject to evaluation where applicable. This period marked the standardization and other deontological ethics. That Art and Design should be the type which express its purpose, Eisner (1998) inviting and appealing. However, this was not far-fetched but the complete influence of the artists-technocrat conditions, rules and regulations was employed as reference to be use for expressive purposes. In this case art and design become functional, in a way leaving the initial intention of individuality. But “every individual work has a moral significant.” Art and design teaching therefore, reflects basic needs rather than specific aspirations of individual wellbeing. A plan developed to serve economic interest and development. Thus, all schools may not look different from other institutions, but structured to meet societal demand. Modern Art and Design should respond to all human situations with pleasure and dignity in all its ramifications, assumed a social responsibility towards alleviating the socio-economic conditions. It becomes a common tradition to guarantee a level of adequacy as a model for the society. In this case, Art and Design Educational Curricula should address these issues and as principal goal.
This essay is to examine my experience as a school of Art trained Teacher. Also reflection on the first Nigeria’s National Curriculum on Art and Design Education, a colonial and post- colonial conceptual frame work evident of the British educational legacy. The ideology on Art and Design Education as it applies and its influence on Art and Design teacher’s education system. Effort will be directed, however to the findings, purpose and the influence on Art and Design Schools, Teachers and Students; in the area of self-awareness, method, skill acquisition and application. The intension of this essay is not to start to construct a systematic response or disapproval by insisting upon the idea, rather proceed by a careful observation, suggestions if necessary and analysis approximately wherein the benefits and the negative influence on my profession may be attained at a considerate level of understanding.
I do hope that the reader will be informed about the policy proposal, based on my experience through the essay some background information for and from the period I began studies towards the assumptions of my teaching role. The continuous influence of the recommendations on today’s art and design education and teaching skill. Art and Design subjects were selected and constricted into a functioning school system each had to be handled by a wealth of experienced teachers and contribute in styles, method and subject matter. Most of the outstanding art-teachers, if not all of them may have excelled with equal merit though, that led to continuous achievement of modern art and design teaching style for the enhancement of Art and Design Education direction till today.
PARADOX OF ART AND DESIGN EDUCATON POLICY CHANGE
It was an impulse leap within a circle of the politicians that brought new idea into Art and Design. Another plan of action, programme and implementation which is comprehensive in nature are needed urgently for continuity. The Federal Education Ministry appointed a committee to look into ways of formulating a new curriculum that could respond to Nigeria’s cultural and economic needs. The responsibility fell on Sir, Eric Ashby and his committee member in 1959. A renowned Education-technocrat, British, a member of Academy of Art and sciences, understood in that very moment in every direction Art and Design was moving. It became important about reformulation of education policy. And having the same desire to defend, to address Art and Design and everything that it produce. This desire ensued in form of a discussion which led to finding, identifying the problems, analysing alternatives and possible solutions, believing that Art teacher(s) and Artists have got the idea of innovations, creativity and everything will be under control. As with “all extra dimensions, it changes the apparent hitherto apparently intractable of and the reality of the problem”. Not that Art and Design was getting much help from the Authority and the society though? If the society is being confronted with crisis, then doesn’t it need new ideas? It was obvious the Artist-Technocrats don’t want the crisis to be mentioned, they are already aware of the issue, no interest in listening to anymore of this, suggesting there are ways to evolve and expand Art and Design than in the past. what has Art did in the past? What then are they going to do? They reasoned, looking at the beginning Art and Design has been most efficient in a way which is not compatible with the realities of the period and they knew exactly how short the idea could go. Art and Design in this perspective is basically derailing the idea could not shape the future education and the society. Art agenda and programme are missing out and changes nothing about individual and societal growth.
The commission worked hard, made researches, relied on one and another, asking questions, collecting data, but these questions and argument sometimes do not have the confidence required. Should Art and Design Education basically change roles? What new formula should be re-introduce? Going back to the older method which do not conformed to the present social situation today, that redefine ideas non the less solicited. The response may be interesting and compromising in context or might create a complex situation in new art and design instructional programmes development that reflect potential Artist needs. The human basics for Art and Design is therefore, taking into objects and utensils with simplicity and comfort adaptable to gain more stability. Material resources could be organised, controlled and improved on, it allows room for experimental research into Art and Design, as never before. Here Art became a structure of unity of purpose whereby school is more of organism and expressive in grand manner a new flexibility in Art and Design modified by aesthetic principles. Whereas, potential artists and teacher’s contribution is most apparent in styles method and application are visible features. Friere P. (1970) P.127. The ideological invitation the National Commission on Art and Design Education undertook embodied development in training and remuneration, therefore became a part of symbolic order of reconstruction, perception of art and design policy on reproduction in schools., Teacher to Student artists and process that exposes them to expression of wide range of human values, concerns and developing a working relationship through access to skills, tools or information that enables application or experience to creative work.
Principally, the task of Curriculum on Art and Design education in any country is to articulate not mainly an alternative set of policy proposal. But another point of view to address the Art and Design programme and method of instruction embedded in interdependence rather than individual centred, rather than dominance hierarchy and practice of exchanging ideas with others for mutual benefit. Because in the present circumstance, in the near future, though inevitable confidence in programme planning, method of instruction and capacity for better understanding by teachers will be only thing standing between Art and Design programme and policy. But when Art and Design policy and instructional method is at the issue, it becomes a debate. Only by ascertaining the content of the text may one begin to appreciate how the text may be seen as a whole. Hegel (1817). If a survey were taken among Art teachers and policy formulators, what would possibly emerge will be a mixture of reactions and this is central to the question of method become a basis for investigating the level of participation in the activity and the anticipated result.
In Nigeria a commonwealth and ancient colony, the Art and Design Educational programs is modelled along with the British system of education 1960 which is still in use. Perhaps, with little amendments without any significant new development. Whereas, educational policy continues to embrace the four levels: the early childhood, (pre-primary) primary, the secondary and the tertiary levels to educate individuals into realizing their potentials of which I am a product. And a wider difference from present experience as a postgraduate student on Art and Education, in the United Kingdom. In 1960 there were only two universities, afterwards rose to five, one in each regions of the country and by 1975 there were thirteen universities. Today the number has risen to about a hundred and twenty, both federal, states and privates. It is remarked that within eight years the Nigeria’s ministry of Education passed through unstable period and had operated under eight ministries of education. Each have their own different conceptions and policies on Education that they tried to implement, no one was implemented. The Nigeria educational system has not actually completely divorced itself from the British educational legacy and still rooted in the ideology, context and contents. Art and Design teaching is more academic than practical as the content of what is taught and the approach to them in some ways don’t relate to real life experience. Since independence, Nigeria is still trying to promote social reconstruction through transformation program leaving art and design with lesser role.
However, I systematically employed a simple approach, a combination of educational policy change influence, personal experiences in Art and design teaching in France and opinions that have influenced on my practise. By getting principally information from the library, books on Art and Design, Philosophy of Education and literary critics on education. It is not my intention to engage in any comparative debate about my formation now and then. I shall not try to proffer solutions systematically to numerous issues that may arise as regards Art and Design Teaching in Schools. I would rather begin by looking at my experience as an Artist and Art Teacher in a Western environment. And approximately proposing suggestion or observation about some bias principles wherein could inform or influence other Art and Design Teachers, with similar situation at a considerable level of understanding. My position is to present a view point in a way to show how the past experience could inform the present while also offering ideas for the future. Three approaches were applied –practical experience, collating and presenting information on education, policies on art education and other useful material considered necessary. Before going further more it will be interesting to present what may represent the Nigeria’s Commission on Art and Design Educational Curriculum, 1959.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF ART AND DESIGN EDUCATION AND CURRICULUM
The National Committee on Art and Design Education 1960 as mentioned in the preliminary page was set up early 1959 and mandated to review, restructure and forward a comprehensive recommendation to the ministry of education under Committee Chairman Sir, Eric Ashby. The intension was on the possibility of developing future high skill manpower for the country, a land mark that allow or accord greater responsibility to schools in coordinating academic courses, condition for examination and continuous evaluation of student activities. The committee remarked that in other to achieve national economic and cultural development education is needed. The report noted from its findings four major areas of specialisation, preceded by a pre-degree study, the new role of Art Education in school and method of evaluation. The four main groups of studies are as follows;
A. Fine art (painting)
B. Graphic design
C. The three dimensional arts/ sculpture, ceramic and wood work
D. Textile/ fabric design
Also, there is a detailed proposal for new awards to be known as ordinary and higher diploma in art and design (OND and HND) normally must have completed a satisfactory comprehensive course for at least four years in line with the existing four-year art and design education program leading to assessment and two-year diploma in art and design study leading to two year ordinary diploma in Art and Design. History of art and other complementary subjects should be studied alongside other course and examined. The pre-requisites for entry into the diploma in art and design should depend on a satisfactory completion of the secondary school GCSE/GCE, in this case, four basic ordinary level subjects and a minimum age of 16 years old. Normally it should be possible for student to change from one course to another course or vice-versa. The four O’ level subjects, two were compulsory with proof of English proficiency. There was exceptional case whereby students of outstanding prowess in Art and Design skills can be selected, who could not make up the condition of eligibility for admission. This weaver is not effectively applied during the process of admission. It showed afterwards that complementary studies like drawing technic and photography were compressed within the fine art and graphic design. The vocational education opens the possibility to students who could not follow up to normal standard established schools can provide a new admission into the vocational or apprentice training skills. There is a unified tertiary and matriculation examination: (U.T.M.E), for further education. Nigeria curriculum on Art and Design Education vocational program is design to mobilize and provide orientation for individual in compliance with the policy intension. It envisages the application by teachers in appropriate sense deemed suitable for instruction and learning anticipated.
Nevertheless, the pre-occupation of the committee was the belief to develop practical activity for individual, the experience gained will be largely enough for them to make adequate use when they progress to higher educational level. However, this assumption could be inadequate and may not be quite sustainable. There is recognised inherent problem associated with teaching Art and Design in schools which is to be looked into as: the evaluation of art and design education, the notion of structure, administration and the organisation of programs. Also, the emphasis on compulsory subjects at the detriment of other subjects. This proposition can be deterrence to continued interest in other subjects and the tendency for meaningful performance at any stage. Therefore, the whole policy recommendation could, however be summed up as:
– The subject base approach
– The concept base approach
– The thematic approach
Which tries to reflect and re-examination of learning situation, the teacher and student issues. What can determine continuous education in relation to social change. There is also the conceptual level and its role from the foundation to further/higher level and significant element of Art and Design was however, addressed. The higher level is degree awarding BA (ed.) or B.Ed., Master and PhD. The N.C.E is the minimum teaching qualification. However, the tertiary models, college of education and polytechnic have been upgraded to the university level in the UK leaving behind the former colonies at their own mercy.
A NEW ART AND DESIGN TEACHING-ROLE
Teaching is not a dream but Teacher dreams which is normal like everyone. To be an Art teacher is not a nightmare but a pre-occupation, and a profession by its own right. Though, there arise occasion of frequent trembling, frustration and stress, including disorder when it relates to occupational function. Teaching Art and Design is complex endeavour and if it is to be done properly requires effort and determination accompanied by methodology, capacity through understanding, sharing information, adapting Art and Design content to learning situation in the classroom may be, a comprehensive holistic open ended approach.
Political upheaval assumed a considerable level during or before the summer of 1998 in my country, Nigeria. I was of an average age adult, I had my first National Certificate in Education from the University Institute of Education and a Degree in Art and Education afterward. I gruntingly made up my mind to leave for Europe. I felt as though I was treading past a heap of bins on a street corner, a striking contrast on arrival and scaring impression of a World apart, assumed a nostalgic sensation which subsumed the whispers, noises, and the blues perfume of the streets of my birth. What intrigued me was the grating realization that the magisterial image I had of my education presented a dirking dream. The intention I had was not to address the problem for a while but seem more prophetic when the need arose to have some resources by engaging in Art and Design teaching that cleave the value and status of the ‘where’ not when or how I obtained my degree, which negated my capacity. I found myself morally incapacitated. Human being principal pre-occupation is existence or sustenance, and to be a man is the capacity to sustain and adapt to changing circumstance within a giving situation. Talabi. G (1979) p.1. I am aware that educational orientation is a strong weapon in any person possession. I recalled that a new start is inevitable because it is so exquisitely interesting to begin where I had stopped. And knowledge acquired is permanent renders a mean for exploring other avenues for useful wellbeing in the present on which I continue to build artistic creativity.
It is understood that continental and national boundary defines the contents of educational curricula, specifically, in term of social, historical or cultural and geographical limits. It is obvious that educational contents, is largely determined by each countries politics of inclusion and exclusion a bases for assessment conditions for guaranteeing the value of ‘Certificates and Diplomas’ obtained within its’ confines. Teaching qualifications offered by universities are not automatically recognized due to political-economic stand points, but within a single economic-geographical group is favoured. In a single country a teacher may be qualified to teach but not in another. An indication that all teachers don’t have equal status as regards where the degree was obtained. A point of interrogation about my education. If art programme is universal, what makes the difference?
Teaching role remain unchangeable. There is a systematic emphasis on quality and excellence which remain factors in certificates assessment. In regards of this development, I considered it necessary to carry on without any prejudice, my preoccupation was where and how to find any activity relevant to my discipline. A starting process again of looking for a job to avoid wasting time and effort. I might have a clear idea of what I want to do and have been doing. But job became more or less conditional because of requirements are closely linked to exigencies and unsuitable for/ not compactible, none homologation or equivalent a sinister motive to justify re-assessment. A fine line between anticipation, anxiety and pressure could develop into a stress situation, visibly difficult by any circumstance that seems unreasonable. However, a situation like this is not uncommon and required an assertive approach to addressing it than giving up the effort. There is need of persuading people about your concern. It is obvious that by persuading people may on the long run benefit my effort to enabling people appreciate, share my view point and suggest something along the line.
Art and Design personal teaching method/approach (Fig.1)
As earlier stated, educational and teaching experience are immeasurable applying it in a new environment that concern the life of young and adults is a challenge. There has been constant debate and argument as the nature of art teacher and teaching art. The above approach in fig1. was very useful. Equally many aspects of teaching art and roles, are often individual experience and interpretation. The ability may demand personality development as against the stereotype approaches. Not that experience is inevitable in any aspect of teaching as I observed, this could evidently add to effective technical skill thereby a basic for evaluation and standardization form. One can also learn by reflecting on such experience. Reflection is thinking carefully for an extended period by connection to recent experiences to earlier one in order to ascertain or reconsidering and questioning within a broad context of art and design issues. I am conscious of the fact that the knowledge and skill acquired, with experience will always at every moment create the confidence in any teaching role.
Therefore, as an art teacher I am convinced that wherever anyone acquired his or her training is insignificant and most importantly is to be able to adapt the art of teaching to the task assigned. The skill acquired if well exploited will justify the certificate. Engaging in periodic art workshops, personal exhibitions, and teaching on volunteered basis earned me a place at the Social-Cultural and Youth Development Centre, as Art and Design teacher/ animator. I took up responsibility for planning, preparation and delivery of educational program that engaged Art and Design activities whereby a new course program has to be formulated, wherein none existed. The effort created a general awareness of how useful I could enhance my teaching and learning condition. The issue regarding teaching and learning is always interrelated and influences each other roles in a school system.
Teaching and learning plays much greater role in the life of a learner, so my task of teaching art though difficult is far more worthwhile and full of hope for greater success in conformity with the curriculum design. Richardson. M (1948). One thing must be mentioned here, that personality and engagement in role should be a rational acceptance. It could constitute a dominant contribution in learning. I think I do not over exaggerate when I constantly emphasis on capacity and responsibility which is not peculiar to everyone. Capacity is a factor that enable teachers to perform fully to a considerable level of his or her role. In this context I do not think of having a mistaken impression is being conveyed here. I could give a clarification here that as a teacher and artist, is a manner of sharing my experience with others. In any form, role is an innate quality of “expression and individuality as direction for art teaching”, according to Donald, et al (1990). Anyhow, it is the expression of a point of view about teaching and learning. It is on such observation I feel there must be a paean of sort to teaching and teachers. I conceived that there was a bound to encounter some unavoidable difficulties.
The implementation and management in the learning situation wasn’t too demanding but yet, to my dismay problem exist due to some human fallibility. The quest for a new activity, assuming the responsibility whereby language barrier was a hindrance complicated my interaction in carrying out my function. But on the long run, the engagement afforded me the opportunity of learning from the student French language at the same time teaching Art and Design. Thus the teaching situation rest on the absolute unusual method or condition of by an exchange of knowledge which happened between the students and I. Ranciere, (1980). Rather than search for an immediate solution how to improve my level of French language but was being given an answer as opposed to there being a problem. It was therefore necessary to construct a social environment in which students engage discursively with Art and Design activities which inform, contribute to and potentially allow such occasion for exchange and interaction. When you are engaged you get to live and to do the job you have trained to do. Being able to put your skill into practise is a fantastic experience. The fact that I arrived unplanned in an environment, I tuned-in to follow what the direction demand for necessary alternatives. Listening to responses to the questions asked, observing, getting cues to help in a moment of art and design teaching. I explored the instructional power of interactive art and design activities and arrested the interest of learners. Teaching task is sensitive and result oriented. Making something important to happen when you and students are in command; this is a great feeling representing what I believe in and capacity to make it work is to a larger extent really interesting and rewarding. But the happiest moment is arousing enthusiasm or providing outlet for the learner wiliness to get involve in the process. It is obvious that such classroom experience brings a different outlook to situation that any teacher can always be grateful for. Become more confident and based on the believe that learning require association, essentially a procedure, a course of action and a well interrelated scheme or program. I couldn’t imagine how happy I was and what I realized I could do. It’s all thanks take it with a pinch of salt and signing up to it.
SOME CLASSROOM EXPERIENCES AND CONSIDERATION
Teaching art and design to adults and young children can be entirely different approaches. When the task itself is challenging, interest is heightened. This has had a more illuminating effect on me searching alternatives and perhaps more importantly helped found other option suitable. I explain what that option is, by creating a class explicitly for adults separate from adolescents which will prove useful to call to action expectantly the desired learning situation. Adult learn Art and Design either as vocational subject to acquire new skill, for interest that doesn’t lead to certification and for personal therapy. Teaching Art and Design to adult required different skill not as recommended in principle for young children. Adults are generally there for various reasons, either they want to be, or benefit from their dispositions to have other orientation through art work experiences. I remarked that there are different categories of adults Art and Design learners:
-Work and environment experience
-Education and training experience
Some adults think they have accomplished something when they come forward to acquire art and design skills, an important dimension of life value, feeling of emotion and for others a need to compensate for domestic problems. The moment of fragility who need encouragement, permits to arrange a favourite lesson adaptable and evite frustration and problems getting to the surface. It could be a platform to enabling adult express their own reservation about creative activities. It is important in a variety of ways that effort should be made to develop and not to forget the distinctive role in general of extending art and design basic skills in any circumstances. It stands as a contribution to professional practice alongside with the basic response to personal issue at any level. I tried to build on the content, technic and the result of the previous activities, the relationship with the learning process, and how it could relate to the next. Perhaps, a way of modifying the activities to suite different learners. For example, I tried to know how I am perceived by students and others views of them and progress. It aids not only their level of aspiration, their motivation, but self-concept in relation to his or her own previous experience or achievements. Much of the delight I found is be able to sometime ask if I can relate the major components of the activities? Do I understand how they connect with the previous or next activity? where does one activity fit another, the instructional strategies employed, and to follow up the practice to enhance the standard.
Art and Design education has witnessed over long period inconsistency and often contradictory instructional methods recommendations. It is always a rotating movement, one step forward and backward. Notable major issue from the perspective which come to shore of recommendation or suggestion. Though, it rests still ambiguous issues and other plausible outlined in the aim and objective of Art and Design, and teaching methods that need clarification. Societal or individual and Government interest form basis that initiate curriculum change in Education with the hope that a desired improvement in learning new skills. A deliberate influence on Art and Design curriculum with beaurecratic control subject to random scrutiny, assessment, regulated by examination; Bernstein (1973). Policy change evolve somehow, the purpose, application and platform for implementation and could perceived as subjective. Also, the human situation as it affects art and design educational goal. These issues at one moment or the other, in my opinion, partly because it concerns Teachers by the poor interest or focus on Art and Design. Also, because of the problem of competitive nature of other subjects and growing engagement in the sciences, a consequence for Art and Design program. The reduced interest become point to be addressed and able to regain the loosed interest. The assumption that most students and parents are synic about Art and Design subject pose a serious question. Absence of this, student may not be equipped sufficiently with the mean of actively engaging in Art and Design as an option, against critically polarised views on the relevant of Art and Design subject in schools. Here, there could be a reminder that the suggestion placed emphasis on evaluation of knowledge as important experience leaving aside the instructional method, that perhaps strengthen skills, whether technical or emotional tied to a scheme or program to adhere in the process. An evident characteristic in objectives indicative of a dot which remains as far as anyone can imagine a dominant generalization to an extent meaningless. Assessment or evaluation or call it examination in Art and Design necessitate what yardstick? The main point appropriate should be a climate of not presenting a threat but enhanced discussion focused the idea. And information to be derive by constructive criticism, not on rhetoric or bias skills assessment and something to develop the concept in student mind. But more interpretative and relevant at certain level to prepare student participation.
In Art and Design teaching, it is understandably that context and content is most often inevitable, they are part and parcel of each other in the accomplishment of learning. A relationship that is most clear in the Art program. Art reveals cultural traits, so the “emphasis should be on how we do it not how others do it or have done it for us” Teaching Art and Design is a special form of experience. I wish to state that it is the experience that teaching make possible. I observed that teaching Art and Design evolve a lively interaction in a learning process. It is not only restricted to role and application of method for any effective learning situation, but the surge of emotion it conveys when teaching can in away ensure the creative ideas students and teacher may develop with the resultant satisfactions. Though, my approach was activity centred explanatory and discussion, combined with critical review of works. Teaching and learning art and design form a basis for discussion, analysis, exchange of ideas both for those involved in the activity and for others who might probably have the desire to learn from the process. Through collective efforts trust can be build and raise issues important to help construct a humanist value that may be transfer into professional practice.
If Art and Design program, actually is a process rather than objects, then it must involve the professionals in the making of policy through dialogue, a welcome idea that is not the sole prerogative of the Authority and stakeholders. This is the way to avoid complication and promote a special form of experience. I wish to state that it is the experience that teaching make possible. I observed that teaching Art and Design evolve a lively interaction in a learning process. It is not only restricted to role and application of method for any effective learning situation. Though, my approach was activity centred explanatory and I allowed opportunity for discussion, combined with critical review of works, in this process we were connected.
With the bond of connection, I remembered when I started being aware of the diversity of students and staffs to the director, the camaraderie that existed was great. This gave me confident and more equipped to be in command of the classroom. An opportunity to make a massive difference in a learning situation. I am attracted to the progressive career path that teaching offers, and this brought me to Birmingham school of art towards enhancing my status. Perhaps, I would advise anyone to embrace.
...(download the rest of the essay above)