TALE, Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement. 3 year longitudinal research project funded by Arts Council England, with the TATE and the RSC. 30 case studies of secondary schools spread around the country, Cornwall to Newcastle. Sample of 30 schools selected on the basis that either a teacher or the school had a professional development relationship with either the RSC or Tate. We took this to be an indicator of a reasonable level of interest and commitment to the arts. So this is a purposive sample, chosen to help us investigate the impact of taking the arts seriously in school. We focused on students who were taking arts subjects who were in years 10,11,12 at start of the project and followed them through over the three years (12,13,14 by end) talking to them in focus group interviews. We tracked and did in depth interviews with two arts teachers in each school, including one who was involved with the RSC or Tate. In year 2 of the project we surveyed all students in years 10-13 about their engagement in arts and cultural activities. We’ve got about 4500 survey responses.
When we analysed the teacher interviews and observations we wanted to draw out what these arts teachers actually do that makes them different from other teachers in the students’ eyes. The teachers we interviewed did what you might expect any good arts teacher would do: They actively sought out and used students’ own cultural resources, and the cultural resources easily available to them in their communities. They tried to use ‘stuff’ that was familiar and interesting to students. But they also arranged visits from artists and cultural organisations to their schools And they made sure that students took advantage of local cultural events, institutions and organisations. And when possible they organised visits to national events and institutions, and sometimes international trips.
The teachers talked about visits in terms of extending students’ horizons and offering opportunities not only to see and understand a new place - but also to see their own place in a fresh way. Many of them saw visits to cultural institutions as integral to their classroom programme, not a treat or a special occasion.
They argued that taking students out of school was crucial. As well as learning about different forms and genres of the arts, the teachers wanted their students to learn about audience participation, expected behaviours, etc. They said things like (direct quote) “Everything is for everyone and people shouldn’t be put off or scared by an art gallery.”
Teachers also looked for opportunities for students to exhibit and perform their work for wider audiences. And to build new connections that could bring their students into contact with the arts and culture industry. They helped students move from the position of consumer to the position of producer. They supported them to think about how to communicate ideas and make work that asks and receives an audience response. They expected them to use professional norms and disciplinary lanaguage, knowledge, skills and practices. We were struck by how many of the teachers worked outside school to enhance arts participation in their local communities, supporting initiatives they judged would bring benefits to their city or town. They often saw the arts through a ‘place-making’ lens, seeing them as enhancing social bonds and strengthening social and cultural capital locally.
What we came to appreciate was the role these teachers had for students in embodying what it means to be culturally engaged. they talked to students about their own arts work and what they had done and seen locally they modeled what it means to go on learning about the arts They sometimes involved students in their own out of school learning The used their teacher ‘self’ as a teaching resource, to show what it means to be culturally engaged and to communicate their own ‘passion’ for the arts, to help students to learn that arts are not simply school subjects, but are an integral part of their cultural geographies.
We’ve come to see the work these teachers do as a form of brokerage - we’re thinking of it as arts brokerage – we understand this as support for students’ cultural education across the borders of school to connect them to artists and local arts organisations and institutions. We’ve summed it up in the 7 themes in the slide. We think that these seven practices are at the core of why arts subjects feel different to students, why so many of them see the arts as connected to the way they want to live their lives in the future. And we think this aspect of arts teachers’ pedagogy and role is under-acknowledged by schools but also by arts and cultural organisations.
We can see from our data that some schools are what we have called Arts Rich. These are schools with particular characteristics and ways of working. We’ve enumerated these characteristics at the whole school, faculty and classroom level. In our own sample, we’ve been back through the 30 case studies, looking at all of the qualitative and quantitative data about each school. Of course, the schools are all different, and there’s a spectrum of engagement with the arts, but we can see a majority of our schools are places where the arts really have a central place in the schools’ identity, curriculum, and organisational structure
Sense of student entitlement and place in the local community.
How to understand this? These schools have provided a capability for their students We see this capability as being linked to the idea of citizenship. It’s not just that they have learned about arts and culture. The students have also acquired the skills and confidence to participate and to make choices, to be creative and to have a voice. We think these can be considered cultural capabilities and that cultural capabilities are inherent in being a citizen. Citizenship isn’t just about knowing stuff; it’s also about doing and being and contributing to the wider community – having a voice and representing your views. These are the reasons we think that arts education – and a broad and balanced curriculum - matter and why we should be arguing for it.
Read more about this on researchtale.net
What do committed teachers and schools do to develop arts and cultural education?
The TALE Project: Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement
What do committed
schools do to
develop arts and
Pat Thomson, Christine Hall,
Lexi Earl & Corinna Geppert
what committed arts teachers do (i)
actively seek out and use students’ own and the
local community’s cultural resources
arrange for artists and cultural organisations to visit
ensure students regularly visit local and national
cultural events, institutions and organisations
what committed arts teachers do (ii)
provide opportunities for students
to exhibit and perform their work
for wider audiences
connect students to arts
work to enhance the arts
participation in their communities
embody what it means to be
What does ‘embodying what it means to be culturally engaged’
mean in practice? ensuring students regularly visit local and
national cultural events, institutions and
actively seeking out and using students’ and
communities’ cultural resources
organising visits from artists and cultural
organisations to their schools
providing opportunities for students to exhibit
and perform their work for wider audiences
connecting students to arts workplaces
working to enhance the arts participation in
we see teachers who work like
this as arts brokers