Teachers' Perspectives on Social Justice Art Education

Date

2020-05

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Abstract

Background: Now, more than ever, teachers find their classrooms filled with students of different cultural backgrounds, class, and ethnicities. Art teachers are exploring a suitable approach to work with diverse students. Social justice art education provides art teachers with a guideline to empower diverse students. Social justice art education builds on the foundation of Neo-DBAE, visual culture art education, multicultural art education, and social reconstructionist art education, aiming to empower all students, especially students of color or from lower-income families, equipping them with the ability to critically analyze visual culture presented in their lives. Purpose: The purpose of this research is to explore art teachers' perspectives on social justice art education. Namely, 1) What are the perceptions of five art teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools regarding social justice? 2) What are the perceptions of five art teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools regarding the integration of social justice issues in art education? Methods: Case study, a qualitative research method, has been used in this research. Purposeful sampling has been used to identify potential art teachers. The data have been collected from individual and focus group interviews. Five art teachers have been invited to participate in this research. Results: Results show that three out of five participating art teachers have discussed different social justice issues in art classes. The remaining two teachers have not yet discussed social justice issues in art classes, while they have discussed several social justice issues outside of the art class. The study also shows that art teachers are familiar with different kinds of social justice issues. Art teachers argue that social justice in education means access to equal education, creating student-centered curricula, increasing students’ awareness of their personal biased perspectives, fostering students' critical thinking abilities. Regarding the implementation of the social justice art curriculum, art teachers suggest designing student-centered social justice art education, developing age-appropriate teaching materials, and helping students to brainstorm ideas and visualize images. Additionally, art teachers argue that school culture and students’ family education influence their willingness to implement social justice art education in art classes. Conclusion: Social justice art education encourages art teachers to teach art skills and incorporate social justice issues in art classes in order to empower all students with critical visual abilities. In a social justice art class, students can learn about diverse activist artists and see how these artists use their works to advocate a more just and democratic society.

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Keywords

Social justice art education, Critical thinking

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