At the art of the matter
Teaching art to pupils with special needs is a challenge - even for the experienced teacher. For anyone with little background in the subject, it's a daunting task to capture their interest and stimulate their imagination, while fulfilling the demands of the national curriculum. It is difficult enough to reach those with moderate learning difficulties, but how does one make art meaningful and enjoyable to pupils with severe or even profound and multiple learning difficulties? Melanie Peter an advisory teacher for the arts with Norfolk education authority, offers her knowledge and experience to those working in this field.
The central theme of Art for All - The Framework is how children are guided to make and develop their own art, learning to communicate ideas and feelings through visual and tactile means. Children with learning difficulties need hands-on experience and multisensory exploration to understand some of the key elements in art such as pattern, texture, shape and form. Their progress may be in small steps, recognised by the structure of the national curriculum's requirements.
Peter sheds light on the philosophy behind these requirements and the problems that may be encountered, particularly by teachers who feel their training hasn't prepared them to deal with their pupils' needs.
Art for All - The Practice looks at the practical side of planning, organising and delivering the national curriculum for art to children with learning difficulties. It explores the stages of development in art-making, planning an art lesson, and considers pupils' individual needs. The chapter on "Delivering an Art Lesson" includes a wealth of practical experience.
This is a valuable publication, which should interest not only the non-specialist who teaches children with learning difficulties, but also those in mainstream education. It offers excellent source material and is well illustrated with some delightful drawings and paintings by children.