Exploring matric art students’ interpretation of the art curriculum and the socio-political implications of the topic issue at three independent schools in Gauteng
Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.
ENGLISH SUMMARY: This research focused on the experiences and perceptions of 21 matric art students from three independent schools in Gauteng, and the socio-political implications of their given topic for the year 2015. This study is based on the notion that it is the responsibility of art education not only to allow emotional freedom in constructing individual realities, but also to teach structured expression and awareness of underlying socio-political structures through critical engagement. The aim of this research was to explore how matric art students critically engage with the given topic, the influence of their core personality features and subsequent reactions to the curriculum requirements. The research sought to discover new contributions to theories within art education about the critical awareness of art students as well as to provide record of 2015’s independent schools’ matric art students’ experience and some of their art-related ideas about their social environments. The research was designed according to an inductive approach, and used grounded theory as an analytical framework that involved a case study design of one-on-one interviews that were transcribed and coded into overarching themes. The first, topic interpretation and critical engagement, explored the ability of the art students to negotiate through different spheres of social life. Students in general demonstrated a lack of socio-political insight into issues relating to the given topic, choosing rather to interpret them in more obvious ways. The second theme explored how core personality features heavily influenced their formulation of ideas for artworks and even influenced them in lifestyle choices. The presence of the hidden curriculum was indicated as well, as deviation is discouraged both in inner and outer expressions. The third theme considered how curriculum reactions ranged from complete acceptance to being somewhat frustrated at the constricting schedule. The final theme explored how the role of the teacher allows for either freedom to develop critical skills or for students to become dependent on overly involved guidance. It is argued that the responsibility of the teacher is to allow for co-construction, and the ability to know knowledge better and more fully in order to dismantle previous social power relations. Art education is rigorously linked to its students and so current expectations and interpretations of it could benefit future construction of curriculums to more fully prepare students for tertiary education, and even for participation in society as citizens themselves. This study therefore contributed to art education theory on the perspectives of independent schools’ matric art students, suggesting that critical training is lacking at present and that, in future, it could possibly benefit society, as education shapes the future potential of these students.
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