Protecting transformative optimism in the art classroom: exploring aspirant art teachers’ shifting ideals

Grant, William Richard (2023) Protecting transformative optimism in the art classroom: exploring aspirant art teachers’ shifting ideals. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This extended, normative case study was initiated in response to my professional concerns regarding the capacity of student art and design teachers to defend and extend their personal ideals for future classroom practice. Placement in schools, a majority component of initial teacher education (ITE) in England, appeared to be limiting the hopes and disciplinary intent of many of my own students, instead exposing them to a context of increasingly standardised pedagogic expectation, lacking in agentic opportunities.

Through a qualitative study designed with Freirean intent, I employed visual methods and elicitation interviews to better understand how a cohort of ITE art students’ ideals were altered or reinforced through adaptation or integration with placement classroom practices. Artistic data collected from nine participants was transcribed through novel application of Feldman’s critical framework, and hybrid thematic analysis resulted in the presentation of six interpretive themes. Deductive codes were drawn from two influential sources: Dennis Atkinson’s (2018) characterisation of an English neoliberal school art context, and César Rossatto’s (2005) typology of teacher optimisms.

I found that aspirant art teachers arrived with ideals of an art education celebratory of the authentic attributes of the discipline, typically expressed as chaotic or organic in nature. They championed liberal, critical, and dynamic aspects of teaching and learning about art. On placement, homogenised expectations and reproductive curricula were frequently encountered oppressing students’ agency, and participant cynicism grew. Some adapted their ideals to satisfy institutional requirements. Others described subversive attempts to enact personal aspirations, or a renewed sense of transformative purpose forged in ideal/real tensions.

It was important that I could use this knowledge to reconsider my own practices as teacher educator, to protect a pluralistic, dynamic visual art education in future secondary school classrooms. My findings suggest enhanced opportunity for focused dialogue, community, and critical reflection during ITE could strengthen future student art teachers’ capacity to retain, and activate, their own ideals.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Patrick, Dr. Fiona and Hedge, Professor Nicki
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-84006
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2023 16:23
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2023 16:29
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84006

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