Practical skills

1st July 2005 at 01:00
Social and Critical Practices in Art Education Edited by Dennis Atkinson and Paul Dash Trentham Books pound;18.99

This book explores art as a vehicle for social and critical commentary. It is a compelling mixture of chalk-face experience and academic writing, with contributions drawn from authors around the world.

In their introduction, Dennis Atkinson and Paul Dash make it clear that they do not advocate the abandonment of traditional skills but give examples where their acquisition has been a natural consequence of ideas-based practice.

Tim Rollins writes of his work with disaffected students in New York's south Bronx. He warns that teachers must avoid systems which do not respond to people's needs. This sets the tone for subsequent chapters. John Johnston describes the way the visual arts in Belfast encourage students to "look beyond the parameters which define their social existence", and Henry Ward, an art teacher in a south London secondary, talks of encouraging students to engage with contemporary art practice.

Two perspectives are given on"Room 13", an outward-looking art department run as a collective by students at Caol Primary School in Fort William: one by a very self-assured student, Danielle Souness, and one by teacher and artist-in-residence Rob Fairley, who expounds the importance of teaching philosophy from an early age.

Other chapters explore different cultural perspectives on the use of comics, work with young offenders, and the importance of children having a stake in the curriculum. A particularly vivid insight is given into the work of the Robben Island Museum in South Africa and the part it is playing in the truth and reconciliation process.

In the final chapter, Nick Addison and Lesley Burgess examine the connection between school art and contemporary practice, using PGCE students as research subjects. One student asks: "How can you be a better teacher by being an artist?" He might well find his answer in Tim Rollins's dictum that education can "serve as a kind of artistic medium with the potential of making a direct imprint on the happiness and progress of individuals and communities".

Tom Hardy is head of art at North London Collegiate School

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now