Reflection On Research Robin PascoeDocument Transcript
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Robin Pascoe, Murdoch University, Perth Western Australia
A useful starting point for our preparation for the WAAE09 meeting in Newcastle is to review the research priorities in the
recommendations of the UNESCO Road Map Road Map for Arts Education Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century (UNESCO,
2006 p 20)
Research, Evaluation and Knowledge-sharing
• Promote ongoing evaluation of the emotional, social, cultural, cognitive and creative impacts of Arts Education;
• Promote a regional system to gather and disseminate information on Arts Education;
• Promote knowledge-sharing and networking through the establishment of Arts in Education Observatories (clearinghouses), with UNESCO Chairs and
the UNITWIN Network;1
• Promote research in the arts in order to inform the development of future initiatives in this expanding field;
• Establish an international data-base of research to provide scientifically sound evidence of the individual and social significance of Arts Education and
creative involvement, including, but not limited to, such areas as the development of the integrated human being, social cohesion, conflict resolution,
public health and the use of new technologies in creative expression in the schools;
• Commission case studies and research that could then be used as a guide for engaging in more participatory and practice-led research. Such a case
study could lead to the development of an international network of researchers sharing methodologies and building better models of assessment with
students, artists, teachers and parents as active participants. This would build capacity for the future and inform lifelong learning and assessment;
• Encourage research and rediscovery of the traditional use of arts in learning and every-day life;
• Record and evaluate bibliographical resources and other sources of information on Arts Education, with a view to their analysis, re-packaging and
• Systematize significant experiences that can serve in preparing quality indicators for Arts Education, and promoting the exchange of experiences;
• Facilitate the preparation and implementation of regional and international education and research projects;
• Put into place international networks to facilitate regional cooperation and sharing of best practices in implementing Arts Education policies;
A cool-headed reflection on these recommendations can conclude that most, but not all, of them have been to some extent
successful though it is sometimes difficult to see the whole picture of how this is the case. There have been evaluations of the
impacts of Arts Education; there are Arts in Education Observatories established; research in the arts and education has been
promoted; there has been preparation of quality indicators of Arts Education; there have been international networks established –
the WAAE being just one example. While there have been successes, there are also been questions about whether there has been
comprehensive and cohesive attention to these recommendations across the members of UNESCO. It is possible to feel a sense of
incompleteness in the ambitious research agenda set by the Road Map.
Perhaps one of the mechanisms necessary for the next World Conference in Korea May 2010 is to develop a comprehensive
overview of what has been achieved. This would however be a difficult task to plan and execute in the time before May 2010.
A second thought is to review these recommendations. At one level, these recommendations serve as global aims for research in
Arts Education. As such they are easy to agree to and accept. They are acceptable “parenthood statements” that are difficult to
ague against. There is a need to separate the more general aims from specific target projects. What is needed is specific project
based research recommendations developed under the umbrella of more general aspirational recommendations.
A more pertinent discussion for WAAE09 is to focus on what has prevented – or enabled – this WAAE network to move towards
these 2006 recommendations.
1. The meeting of researchers at the World Creativity Summit Taipei June 5-8 2008 was an important initiating point. The
two proposals generated there, as outlined in Rachel Mason’s report (personal communication email 2009) are useful.
Proposal 1 Reconceptualising the Field. This proposal was for research that builds capacity to articulate the nature of the field’s contribution to
contemporary and future societies for internal and external audiences. Conceptual clarification of the nature of this contribution should take into
account ecology, the environment and society, traditional and contemporary arts, professional arts, media, visual culture, amateur arts etc. Key
questions for the profession now are ‘How should our educational enterprise position itself in relation to these fields and ‘What kinds of beliefs and
attitudes should it foster in order to serve them? The group recommended WAEA go for an ambitious, large-scale, project, seek funding from regional
and national arts associations, industry, media and education and buy in leading expert thinkers and practitioners. Promoting and resourcing this
project through the advocacy and networking groups would enhance its potential and impact.
Project 2 Arts Education and Creativity, Identity and Motivation
This group argued a case for examining the role of the arts in re-generating creative heritage for sustainable humanity. Such a project should be
informed by the underlying principle of difference. There is a need to (i) establish what is already known about relationships between knowledge and
creativity, motivation and identity both in general and arts education studies in a range of cultural contexts; and (ii) to review theory and practice in
each topic and indentify gaps in previous studies. Research questions were forthcoming for the three areas of interest flagged up in session 1.
Namely: (i) ‘How can arts educators position creativity meaningfully within local national and global cultural and political contexts?’; (ii) ‘What
motivates teachers and students in arts education’? and (iii) ‘How can arts education assist learners to construct and interpret cultural social and
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individual experiences in a diverse world’? The group suggested research is carried out by teams of association members focusing on concept
evaluation and systematic reviews of theory and practice in arts and general education. Again, the anticipated impact is increased clarity thereby
providing a better basis for advocacy.
2. Taking these proposals to action has been problematic. To move forward there does need to be funding capacity,
leadership capacity and support from UNESCO. Perhaps in the time span between WAAE meetings, and given the other
demands on the participants of the research group, it has been difficult to generate the necessary momentum to move
forward. In a similar vein, it has been difficult to build a working group to approach UNESCO for institutional support and
to develop funding applications. While there is agreement that there are potential sources of funding, it does require a
significant amount of time and commitment to develop applications – particularly across disciplines and countries. It
must also be recognized that individuals and the member associations of WAAE have their own research priorities. It is
also perhaps important to remind ourselves about the limits of UNESCO and the difficulties of negotiating within the
constraints and priorities of individual members of UNESCO.
3. It may be necessary to recognize that the development of concrete proposals is a time consuming business and a
capacity building process.
It is therefore important for us to look to the meeting at Newcastle as a time for reflecting and refining a research vision and for
generating a working party to develop a concrete proposal for the Conference in Korea. This does mean identifying a prioritized
research focus – while still encouraging the other research interests of individual researchers and WAAE member associations. In
developing that proposal there will need to be more detailed work on funding and potential leadership; partnerships with UNESCO
and other partners will need to be established as part of a proposal for consideration in Korea. It is important to move from the
general and worthy research agenda to one of action.
UNESCO (2006). Road Map for Arts Education, The world Conference on Arts Education: Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century Available
from http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=6335 and
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