UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Choo, Nicola Sze Mying
National Institute of Education
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

An Academic Exercise submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for Bachelor of Arts (Hons)


An emergent awareness of the failure of transmission models of education has been accompanied by a surge of interest in new advances made ahout the nature of intelligence and its development. With a heightened awareness that education has to involve more than merely the acquisition of information, the government initiated directives that school culture and learning environment should drive at promoting creativity, innovation, independent thinking and life-long learning (MOE, 2000). And so, pressured by such directives, a new art syllabus was implemented, in which the number of prescribed themes were reduced and a 'developmental approach to the teaching of art was advocated' (Ang, 2003).

This study suggests however, that the 'developmental' approach adopted in lower secondary art education in secondary schools in the context of Singapore, is not always an authentic one. Where many aspects of the Singapore art curriculum are task-based and skills oriented, an authentic developmental approach is not simply concerned with formal qualities, rather with the representational, creative and expressive logics of art practice which underpin these formal structures. By surveying what several psychologists and intellectuals have discovered ahout the principles that govern human development and the cultivation of creativity, in particular, studies that suggest principles at work in the development of both artistic, cognitive and enotional domains in children, this essay argues that the key underlying principles of traditional early childhood education - individualism, free play, 'developmentalism', and the child-centred curriculum - are absent in the traditional subject-centred and teacher-directed approaches of secondary art education in Singapore. While realizing an authentic developmental curriculum may prove to be an arduous task and may not in itself dictate the optimal course for art education, an understanding of its theories and an examination of practices can direct us towards one.


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