National Institute of Education (SINGAPORE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 1937-1944
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
In order to empower teachers in the classroom in the teaching of art, they must understand art, more specifically they must understand contemporary art, beyond the level of basic elements they usually acquire through their training. Educating students in contemporary art is essential in the 21st century classroom. In this global climate, being able to understand and translate visual data is vital to one’s ability to navigate through a complex world. The ability to understand visual ‘language’ is a teachable skill that can empower the classroom teacher to likewise enable their students in creative and critical thinking. One of the most challenging tasks an art teacher faces in today’s classroom is to explain the meaning behind art that is sometimes deemed as too vulgar, meaningless or shocking. The key is to understand the historical context of the work, appreciate the reasons for its creation, articulate their significance, participate in the art making process and thus gain confidence in their own ability. Students in this learning process should experience specialised lectures, studio work, museum visits and research based writing. Through gaining visual literacy and communication skills, contextual understanding and critical thinking skills, contemporary art in the classroom becomes an aid to encourage higher level thinking, problem solving and deep reflection. Empowered with a broad knowledge of contemporary art and culture, understanding of the link connecting prehistoric and contemporary art, and a renewed understanding of the importance of art education, they can bring their passion to teaching art to our future generations.

Art in the 21st century has been through phenomenal changes. It has been criticized, debated over had its validity as art challenged, and continues to attract controversy and contention. The confusion with the seeming disappearance of older traditions and ideas in the wake of contemporary art has spilled over into the field of education and has affected the teaching of art in the classroom detrimentally. When “is this art?” is the first question that most viewers ask when they see a work at an art exhibition, then teachers often become unwilling to teach it as art in the classroom because they are simply not sure if what they are teaching is art. If educators are not confident about their subject matter, chances are, they will avoid teaching it, preferring to stick closer to the more prescribed traditional syllabus. Although an art education however traditional is better than no art education, a prescriptive art education could be more damaging to the creative, experimental and artistic development of a child than none at all.
Art Education, Contemporary Art, Singapore, Art Classroom.