Ways forward in a post-modern era

9th June 2000 at 01:00
LEARNING TO TEACH ART AND DESIGN IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOL: A Companion to School Experience. Edited by Nicholas Addison and Lesley Burgess. Routledge Falmer pound;16.99

Learning to Teach Art and Design in the Secondary School is a comprehensive handbook, which explores the many complexities of teaching art in a plural society. The book reflects the structure of the PGCE course at the University of London Institute of Education and is aimed primarily at beginning teachers and their tutors, while leading the way for courses elsewhere to adopt a similar format.

The book systematically examines ways of learning, planning and resourcing, attitudes to making, historical and contextual studies, and critical pedagogy. It aims to support and assist in the transition from artist to teacher - analytically questioning all aspects of one's experiences and observations before, during and after the course, and "suggests strategies to motivate and engage pupils in making, discussing and evaluating visual and material culture".

This art teachers' encyclopedia of relevant, up-to-date facts, past and presenttheories, thought-provoking statements and activities,initially pushes the reader into a pool of academia andrelated jargon.

However, the beginning teacher should not be pt off, or be in awe of the book, which is a collection of contributions from artistteachers and lecturers. They have between them accumulated years of teaching experiences and ideologies in order to philosophise and direct art education into the 21st century.

Learning to Teach Art and Design in the Secondary School reflects the post-modern era - it challenges the "technical and formalist limitations of orthodoxy in secondary art and design education". It paves the way for teachers to become more adventurous, creative and imaginative in all aspects of their practice. One hopes that teachers do not lose sight of their own autonomy and individuality in order to conform to the somewhat archaic values and standards which are prevalent in secondary schools.

In essence, I believe this book will become a beginning teacher's bible. It bridges the gap created by teaching practice - which can be an incredibly stressful and isolating period - and college-based learning, which appears at times to be a sterile environment vastly removed from the hubbub and chaos of school life. It will enable students to access information easily, either to develop their own practice or for written assignments.

Sally Millward is head of art at Hampstead school, north London

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