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