Does arts education have a future in Australia against literacy and numeracy?
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Arts education is considered a compulsory part of the school curriculum in Queensland, Australia. Many generalist teachers throughout the state are responsible for its delivery to students. Yet the teaching that occurs in generalist classrooms appears to be dictated by policy reform. In 2007, the Australian government began a National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy for years 3, 5, 7 and 9. In Queensland, teaching for literacy and numeracy was further influenced in schools by the commissioned Masters report (2009). Further testing for literacy, numeracy and science would be carried out in years 4, 6 and 8 within Queensland. The influence of these policy initiatives on the teaching of arts education in schools is unclear. While arts shares equal footing as a key learning area, its actual importance in schools may be substantially lower. This paper helps to provide a current snapshot of the influence of this government reform. In 2008, 201 beginning teachers responded to a questionnaire investigating their personal beliefs and values of teaching arts education compared to maths and English. This study reports on parts of those findings. Results suggest beginning teachers were persuaded to teach English and maths by their schools to improve test results. Subsequently, some beginning teachers suggested they changed their teaching styles of arts integration to more traditional models. Findings hold key messages for the future of arts education and integration in schools. If schools and governments value arts education, they need to provide greater support for the teaching of arts education alongside literacy and numeracy.
International Journal of Arts in Society
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Creative Arts, Media and Communication Curriculum and Pedagogy