UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Context and teacher practice : visual art in a secondary traditional school Boulton-Funke, Adrienne


Based on a ten-week case study in a senior Visual Art class, at The Secondary Traditional School in Lower Mainland British Columbia, this thesis identifies how the traditional educational philosophy conditioned the curriculum decisions and pedagogical practices of a Visual Art teacher. Data was collected from three groups of participants: the Principal of the school, the Visual Art teacher, and a focus group of Visual Art students using the ethnographic methods of document collection, participant observation, and formal and informal interviews. Analysis of the characteristics of Goodlad et al’s (1979) five domains of curriculum: official, perceived, ideal, operationalized, and experienced indicated that recent reforms to education, reflecting neoliberal policy, significantly shaped the experience of teaching and learning in Visual Art in the traditional public school. Legislated neoliberal reforms to education, legitimized schools-of-choice in the province allowing for the propagation of traditional schools by individuals well versed in the idioms of choice. The traditional philosophy’s back-to-basics curriculum and teacher-centered pedagogical approach, coupled with visual acts of symbolic respect created a learning environment, which challenged the implementation of Visual Art curriculum and pedagogical practices that emphasized critical thinking and contemporary conceptual art practice. The discursive practices of the official curricula constructed the student as transitioning from child to young adult. The official role of those in the school community was to enforce the values of the home and parents during this suspended state of transition. To do so the school culture reformed the typical autonomous activity of teaching in a Visual Art class into a distributed process by conforming teacher practice to the official philosophy. The ways in which student ‘lifers’ of traditional schooling experienced the operationalized and ideal curriculum directed the curriculum and pedagogical practices of the teacher. Critical thinking and social responsibility emphasized in the perceived curriculum were passively resisted by student participants performing the visual acts of respect and integrity perpetuated by the Key Visuals and Ten Tenets of traditional schooling. These acts served to redirect teacher practice to maintain the aims of the teacher through pedagogical practices and curriculum design that closely mirrored the teacher-centered approach.

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