Associated Professor Aud Berggraf Sæbø
University of Stavanger
Research Report 2009:
ART AND CULTURE IN EDUCATION
A pilot project to study measure 25 in the Norwegian “Creative Learning Strategic Plan for
the Arts in Education”:
POSSIBILITIES AND CENTRAL CHALLENGES
OF ART AND AESTHETIC LEARNING PROCESSES
IN PRIMARY AND LOWER SECONDARY EDUCATION,
CONSIDERING THE STUDENTS OVERALL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
About the Norwegian Research Report
The first chapter presents the background, frames and goals for this pilot project. Then
chapter 2 presents a summary of survey results regarding the opportunities and key challenges
for arts and aesthetic learning processes in primary and lower secondary education, in terms
of students' overall learning and development. Chapter 3 present selected relevant
international research on arts in education, before chapter 4 tells of the framework,
implementation and limitation of this pilot study. In Chapter 5 I explain the results of the
survey on how the teaching of arts and culture are organized and give concrete examples of
teaching from the teachers in the survey. Finally, I present and discuss some selected aspects
of arts in education as the aesthetic disciplines in the light of pupils' education.
This English presentation is an extract from the Norwegian research report and tells about
the background for the pilot project, the summed up findings and the research that’s
1.1 Background to the initial project
The Norwegian Creative Learning Strategic Plan for the arts in education has in measures 25
"Take the initiative for establishing a new national and international evaluation
program for the arts in kindergarten and education" (KD, 2007, s. 45).
The justification for the measure is directly tied to the latest curriculum and school reform:
"In the curriculum work's part 2 - Principles and Frameworks for the Education - is cultural
competence, included in line with social skills and learning strategies etc. (KD, 2006).
Students learning experiences should include a variety of forms of expression and the
development of cultural interest and expertise through initiatives such as inviting to the
aesthetic experience, reflection, and practical coping. On the UNESCO world conference on
arts education in Lisbon in March 2006 one of the main themes was evaluation. Central in the
recommendations from this UNESCO’s conference were monitoring and evaluation of art and
culture's impact on training and education. There is a need to examine how and to what extent
the quality and performance of the art academic area affects the student's overall learning and
development, and the extent to which such an evaluation can be made through methods and
procedures used to evaluate other areas of competency " (KD, 2007).
1.2 Objectives of the Pilot Project
The Directorate of Education gives in springtime 2009 The National Centre for Arts and
Culture in Education a commission to conduct a pilot project with the following objectives:
"Based on the strategic plan Creative Learning, measure 25, to conduct a pilot project through
some selected case studies (Case School) and map the opportunities and key challenges for art
and aesthetic learning processes in primary and lower secondary education, in terms of
students' overall learning and development.
The defined objectives for the pilot project are:
1. to explain how the teaching in arts and crafts and music are planned and conducted at
the selected schools (Case Schools).
2. to bring forward good practices and issues that can later on form the basis for the
design of the Norwegian Education Directorate's main research project on Arts and
Culture in Education.
3. to identify relevant issues for a subsequent main research project under the auspices of
the Norwegian Directorate of Education.
In this pilot project, it will also be relevant to report on surrounding issues that are considered
targets for the project:
4. to explain how the subjects dance, drama and media are organized and conducted at
the selected schools (Case Schools)
5. to explain how aesthetic learning processes are included in the theoretical subjects in
the selected schools
As background for the pilot project it is pointed out that "Knowledge of the cultural heritage,
creative and creative abilities are rooted in The General Part of the Curriculum (KUF, 1994).
In addition, social and cultural competence is a central part of the Principles for the Education
(KD, 2006). It is often pointed out, however, that there is a gap between the discussion of the
importance of art subjects for students' learning and development, and the education that
students receive (Bamford, 2006; Sæbø, 2005a, 2009). This gives reasons to examine how and
to what extent the quality and performance within the arts subject area affect students' overall
learning and development. In addition to the national curriculum the background of
UNESCO's recommendation to survey and evaluate art and culture's influence in education, is
manifested in the Road Map for Arts Education, Lisbon 2006 (UNESCO, 2006).
1.2.3 About Art and Aesthetic Learning Processes
The focus of the pilot project is art and aesthetic learning processes as they are discussed in
Norwegian curriculum and school policy document. The aesthetic of the arts subjects are
related to the specific art subject of art expression and modes of recognition. The term
aesthetics is tied to the recognizing and understanding of the senses and feeling experiences.
This means that the sensuous impression, the emotions and the bodily experiences are
integrated in the subject's artistic practice and are further on integrated with the cognitive in
the learning and recognition process. This is what we today call an aesthetic learning process
2 POSSIBILITIES AND CHALLENGES – A SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
This pilot project is a case study of four elementary schools that have an active and conscious
awareness of art and culture in education. A key question is then how and why these schools
choose to focus on the arts in education. This pilot project provides the following answer:
School management and teachers’ belief in that quality in education means that Art is as
important as all other subjects in education for developing pupils' skills and competencies,
that aesthetic learning processes can ensure a student active, practical and creative approach
to the more theoretical learning material and generate interest and motivate students to
engaged work in the learning process and that this requires teachers with high qualifications.
2.1 Twelve Success Factors for Arts in Education
This pilot project can be summed up in a number of clear success factors in the possibility of
Art and aesthetic learning processes in primary and lower secondary school education, in
terms of students' overall learning and development:
1. Rector's conscious will and ability to focus on arts in education
2. Rector's belief that art is as important as other subjects for students' holistic
development and learning
3. Rector's conscious commitment to well-qualified teachers in all the aesthetic
4. Joint development of recurrent models for theme organization of teaching and learning
in all subjects, that are incorporated permanently in the annual plans, and followed up
in the community of teachers and does not depend on the will of the individual teacher
5. Work with curriculum analysis to determine how the art subjects and the other
subjects in school may fulfil part of each other's basic competence in education
6. Conscious work with basic skills and competencies in all art subjects
7. Conscious effort on academic work and training in dance, drama and media
8. Common basic understanding of what quality of aesthetic and student active teaching
and learning means for students' overall learning and development
9. The school's conscious commitment to quality in theme and project work, that
continues in presentations, exhibitions and performances in the school environment
10. The schools' deliberate use of the Cultural Rucksack as an integral part of training in
11. An active collaboration with arts and cultural institutions to be integrated into
12. Cooperation with the Cultural School for training, capacity building and joint projects
This pilot project is based on schools that have an active relationship with art and culture and
overall remuneration in relation to these success factors to ensure the students' overall
learning and development. The pilot project provides a basis for saying that the key
challenges in terms of enhancing students' overall learning and development in education, is a
conscious and active work with the areas that describe the success factors.
This means that the success factors at the same time is the basis for an identification of
relevant issues surrounding the arts in education. For each of the above success factor we can
formulate questions of to what extent and how measures in relation to the success factors can
be realized in education to enhance students' overall learning and development.
2.2 Key challenges and possible research questions for arts in education
The biggest challenge for the arts in elementary Norwegian education in terms of students'
overall learning and development is the lack of equal status between the aesthetic disciplines,
formulated in the following question:
How does the scale and number of teaching hours, the competence aims and status in
the curriculum and the teachers’ competence affect on the educational quality in terms
of students' overall learning and development in the aesthetic disciplines of art and
crafts, music, dance, drama and media?
Moreover, the success factors provide a basis for identifying relevant issues for the evaluation
of the arts in education. Key challenges for art and aesthetic learning processes in elementary
education can be grouped into three theme areas and specified in a number of current and
potential research questions on the basis of the findings and analysis in this pilot project:
A. The aesthetic subjects didactical self-understanding and practice
• What are the characteristics of each of the art subject's aesthetic character, expression
and learning methods and what does each of the art subjects contribute with in
• How to understand the concept of "students overall learning development" in the arts
and what does this understanding mean for art subjects' practice?
• To what extent and how does different concept of knowledge and learning affect the
practice of art subjects and students' overall learning and development?
• How to describe and evaluate good teaching programs in the aesthetic disciplines?
• What is and how to develop basic skills and basic competencies in pupils' learning in
each of the art subjects?
• What are the fundamental similarities and differences between the art subjects, and
how can each of the art subjects’ characteristics and common features contribute to
pupils’ personal, social and academic learning and development?
B. The art subjects in education
• How and to what extent does each of the aesthetic disciplines of art and crafts, music,
dance and drama affect the quality, performance and presentation in students' overall
learning and development?
• How and to what extent can art and culture have a central place in Norwegian
education, when the school's art subjects together constitute only 13% of the total
number of teaching hours in elementary education and research shows that creative
and aesthetic learning processes to a small degree is integrated into the school's other
• What does characterize a qualitative good teaching and learning process in the arts and
how can this be evaluated?
• How and to what extent can art and aesthetic learning processes ensure an inclusive
and vocational training within a whole class community framework?
C. Interdisciplinary - arts integration and aesthetic learning processes in all subjects
• How can a community of teacher work together to develop a common basic
understanding of what quality in aesthetic and student active teaching and learning
processes mean for the students' overall learning and development?
• How can different models of thematic, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary
organization of education promote students' overall learning and development?
• How can arts and crafts, music, dance, drama and media collaborate with other
disciplines in education to fulfil the basic skills and competence in the subjects who
• How can arts integration and aesthetic learning processes be practiced in the school's
other subjects to strengthen the students' overall learning and development?
• What conditions, resources and measures can promote the school's collaboration with
external partners as the Cultural Rucksack, arts and cultural institutions as an
integrated part of students' education?
These three central theme areas manifested in actual and potential problems do represent a
large and comprehensive national evaluation and research program for the arts in
education. On the basis of the generally increasing international interest and focus on the
importance of art subjects' in education and the "Road Map for Arts Education"
(UNESCO, 2006) in particular, it is further more needed to include international
comparative studies and international research cooperation to expand the continuously
developing understanding and knowledge of arts and culture in education.
2.3 Short Summary - The Arts in Norwegian Education
Arts & Crafts
All the headmasters say that it is the subject of art and crafts in their school that has succeeded
the best. Art and crafts has highly qualified teachers / artists, the learning activities are
organized directly in relation to the competence goals, the work is thematically related to the
other subjects in the curriculum. Further on art and craft is committed to the general and
subject-specific basic skills and competencies in the curriculum and above all have an
extensive number of hours. Teachers give pupils good guidance, something to strive for and
time to work thoroughly. The subject Art and craft has developed an active exhibition
tradition at the school and the local community to highlight the subject and pupils' work. Both
the headmaster and the teachers say this means a lot to students' engagement, performance
and sense of mastery, which thus seems very positive in return on pupils, teachers and the
subject itself. Then the pupils exhibited work "speaks for itself", without requiring more time
and effort from students and teachers.
All schools tell that they have high and well-qualified teachers in music. A conscious effort
on more improvised forms of music in the form of various types of drum classes, composition
and interaction, facilitating the use of songs and music in all classrooms, as well as an
extensive collaboration between music, dance and drama, are clear success factors in the
elementary school in this study that absolutely believe that they have succeeded in music
education as part of students' overall training. All headmasters tell that music is actively
involved in interdisciplinary projects. A couple of headmasters does still indicate that the less
success with music education than in art and crafts, is because music is more traditionally
organized with all the training in separate music teaching hours. Music seems to a lesser
degree than arts and crafts to work with themes taken from other subjects. At the same time
the much lower number of teaching hours provides less time to professional specialization,
skills training and development of competencies and quality that can give students a strong
sense of mastery in the subject. Moreover, the music profession has, compared with arts and
crafts, to a greater degree a tradition that have been dependent and concerned with skills
training; being able to sing and play an instrument. However, interdisciplinary projects and
collaboration on performances in which music is part and where students get the possibility to
show off their skills and qualities, stands out here as a very successful project in terms of all
pupils' holistic development and learning.
The headmasters and teachers in this pilot research believe they succeed in dance education
because students are trained in dance by dance educators who have professional expertise. It
is the requirement for the teacher's expertise in dance that decide if and how much of the
students training that is a part of music and/or a part of physical education, since dance to a
great extent is training of skills in relation to traditional dance and folk dance. Creative dance,
of course, also require skills, but because the students here create the steps, movements and
rhythm, the teacher to a greater extent needs to have a competence in a methodical creative
approach to create dance, than the precise dance skills, for students to succeed in the training.
A couple of secondary schools provide a systematic training in dance at grades 8 -10, and all
four schools say that dance often is included in various forms of theme and project work. The
training in dance is combined with students’ performances. This makes the students really
strive and they are strongly motivated to give their best in training and performance. Teachers
believe this has great value to students' education, not at least with regard to the social aspect.
They see that the students have fun in dance, develop and express a body control that provides
emotional coping and happiness - a happiness that is awareness raising: it is possible to dance
and have fun in social situations without drugs!
All the four schools believe they succeed in integrating drama in education, but the scope and
organization of the drama is somewhat different at the schools. None of the schools tells of an
education in drama, for example, in line with the education in dance, or that they have
teachers or teachers with high formal qualifications in drama. But the headmasters tell about
teachers who have a real amateur, children's theatre or cabaret academic standing or
competences. In all schools drama is a part in multidisciplinary arrangements and
performance project. Two of the schools say that drama is part of the vast majority of
subjects, and especially in Norwegian and English. Drama is clearly weaker in theory subjects
in secondary, grades 8 – 10, but is in between included in Norwegian and Social studies. One
primary school has the tradition that drama is regularly a part in music lessons, and in the one
secondary school drama is part of a large interdisciplinary theatre project each year.
According to the teachers drama strengthen the quality of education and gives the students a
better understanding of the learning material they dramatize, they remember and learn better,
they get good oral training, better understanding of text, and they get used and displayed to
other aspects of themselves than in more traditional teaching. Moreover, the teachers
experience that working with performances develops self-confidence, communications skills
safety mastering to come forward and perform in public.
Digital Media / Film
All headmasters say that the teaching in media is the responsibility of the teachers that have
good expertise in the field. It can be the art and craft teacher, but even any other teacher at the
school who have the needed expertise. One school says that they have hired expertise to
educate both teachers and students. The training in digital media is implemented in a limited
period as a theme in the subject of Art and craft. In primary school students receive training in
film / video as part of a theme or project in another subject, for example in Norwegian and/or
Social studies. In secondary schools the students work with photos and smaller video
production, and there is a compulsory training in making animated film.
Thematic, interdisciplinary and project-organized education
The four schools in this study has particularly worked with and developed various models for
thematic organized and / or interdisciplinary education which meets pupils' education in the
arts subjects in the light of a holistic education. These models include to organize the
education in more permanent teaching hours on the week plan, regular thematic work days
every month, and regular theme and project weeks during the whole school year. Headmasters
are concerned that these organizational models have to be "fixed" and to be incorporated in
the annual plans, because the thematic and technical cooperation should not be up to, or
dependent on, each individual teacher. But the subjects included, scope and organization
varies from school to school. The three schools that are primary or combined primary and
secondary school, has invested strongly in collaboration between the arts disciplines and the
school's other subjects. This is exactly what the international research discussed in this report,
finds can improve the quality of education. In secondary school it is the different art subjects
that cooperate on a given topic or project. The education in primary schools is consistently far
more theme-based than in secondary schools.
The Cultural Rucksack and other external partners
The schools in this study all have a good cooperation with the Cultural Rucksack and have
cultural contacts that organize and facilitate various types of visits, whether it is an
educational program, an exhibition, an author visit, a show or a concert. The schools that are
the most satisfied, take an active responsibility to find varied offers that is integrate into the
annual plans and pupils' education. Schools especially appreciate educational programs that
include student activity and which can be further continued in the coming teaching lessons,
and performances that give students artistic and good aesthetic experiences. An active
collaboration with art - and cultural institutions that are integrated in the training and
collaboration with The Culture School, competence building and art project is also clear
success factors in terms of students' overall learning and development at the schools in this
NB! The discussion of the results in this pilot project is discussed in chapter 6 in the
original Norwegian research report. This chapter will be translated and available later
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