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Bee-Lian Kehk


Re-thinking the meaning of art for children and adolescents and the type of art education for the future


Bee Lian is a senior lecturer and the current co-ordinator for the Visual Arts group in the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. She teaches pedagogy modules in the undergraduate, postgraduate-diplomas, professional development and masters programmes at NIE. Before joining NIE, Bee Lian taught in secondary schools and served as a curriculum officer in the Curriculum Planning and Development Division at the Ministry of Education (MOE). Bee Lian sees partnerships in education as critical for quality education and she continues to collaborate actively with MOE and other arts agencies such as the National Arts Council, in art education research and programme development.

Bee Lian completed her Master of Art and Art Education with Teachers College, Columbia University and subsequently received her Doctorate of Education from King’s College, London. Her research interest is in art teacher education, art teacher knowledge and art teachers’ reflective practice. Her research projects focus on teacher education such as art teachers’ teaching practices in Singapore classrooms and the use of technologies in art teacher education.

Title of the conference paper: Re-thinking the meaning of art for children and adolescents and the type of art education for the future

Bee-Lian Kehk


The current pandemic has swept swiftly across the globe and destabilized many traditional social institutions that we are familiar with, and one such institution is schools. The present crisis has also forced us to confront fundamental issues in art education that we have perhaps, ignored or not taken seriously for a long time.  Art education in schools is often subjected to political and social agendas and are ascribed roles that are consistent with and supportive of various governments’ ideals. While many of these roles of art education are reasonable and valid, it is timely for us to re-evaluate the meaning of art education for children and adolescents. In Singapore, we are fortunate that art is a mandatory subject for students from primary to secondary 2 level. However, what does art education mean to these young people and what can we do to create meaningful art experiences for them? In addition, present constraints brought about by the crisis such as social distancing measures, museum closures and online learning take away the very kind of learning in art that is anchored in actual physical viewing, demonstration, modeling and making. I will share experiences from Singapore’s context and discuss the need for art teachers to be technology-ready. I will also suggest that we think about why young people make art and the possible value it holds for them.

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