According to a survey conducted by TATA last year, a need has emerged for teachers of the subject to explore how the arts should be best implemented in the curriculum. “...across the nation people are at different stages; there’s different levels of support, but there is a lot of interest,” Dr Abbey MacDonald, President of TATA explains.
The professional learning program came together as a result of a meeting with Macdonald and vice president of TATA, Katie Wightman, with the support of the Professional Learning Institute of Tasmania. “...we put together a proposal for a professional learning program that we felt was going to enable teachers to explore examples of best practice.
So teachers who were doing really great things in their schools in enacting the Australian curriculum of arts, and that were prepared to share their progress with their teachers, and also to put together a bit of a national snapshot of ... the challenges,” explains Macdonald.
Traditionally seen as disparate fields, in recent years art and science have been merging more and more in the form of STEAM initiatives in schools, with no sign of stopping.
When asked about the way teachers responded to the professional learning event, MacDonald says their enthusiasm was obvious.
“Because there’s a lot of synergy in art and science, particularly in the way in which inquiry within the two areas overlaps, I think teachers were really enlivened by the possibilities within that space.”
Another important element that visual art teachers took away from the PD was the importance of upskilling in both their roles as educators and as artists.
“I think they’re both really important, the challenges within that is always time and resources, because teaching is incredibly emotionally invested work, as is art making, so you have these two really big, passionate kind of areas that these professionals work in,” MacDonald explains. And, she adds, the way in which teachers engage with their art affects their pedagogy and vice versa.