Tuesday, October 7, 2008

np - The Future of Art Education - Ikon, ICA & Art Monthly - Cushti!!

Dear Art Monthly,

I am working in collaboration with Christopher Hodson, we are both MA fine art students and both studying in the Midlands, I'm at Wolverhampton, Chris is at Birmingham. We have chosen to write about our experiences in a blog - Our Fine Art MA. We are in the process of designing and editing this blog and have received funding to publish a hard-copy artist book. The book is primarily a diary detailing and documenting our work. However it is also a cursory look at art education and we are also promoting it as a 'users guide.' We have been formulating opinions about art education and comparing our respective institutions. I have been very interested in the recent debates at the ICA and the Ikon. From a student perceptive the positions we find ourselves in are bewildering. I would like to echo a lot of the issues raised in Art Monthly and at the debate, I would like to see a sea change in art education. However radical change would be challenged from both the student body and 'the (corporation) man'. A rock and a hard place. Students are already homogenized and obsessed with timetables, tutorials, semesters and assessments. Students demand their pound of flesh. Even if they haven't done any work they still want their student fees repaid in tutor quality time - they want a 'teacher' to feed and programme them, turn the key and set the cogs spinning. And to some effect what would £2000+ buy you, what are students entitled to? The fees aren't the only reason for this, younger students have already been institutionalized by school and college. The Education industry is here, a bureaucratic machine of the highest specifications in full swing, it has the capacity to make infant schools culture-less -SAT driven syllabuses are filled with Math Science and English. High schools and further education colleges are driven by league tables and an obsession for growth and sprawl with corporate partnerships. Art and a liberal philosophy doesn't really influence younger students. Yes, the conceptual artists of yesterday are working in the Uni's of today, but I dare say that they are not working in the primary or secondary or even in foundation courses, it seems to me a very British problem. That from PhD research to reception education each sector looks down on the the next. To effect change, the utopian ideals of 1968 need to permeate school, college and university education. So you conceptual artists out there, are you willing to forgo your 'cushti' positions and sabbaticals, your research grants and muck in down the ladder?

I thought not.

Heres my utopian dream - University lecturers become visiting and practicing artists teaching across education in uni's, schools and colleges - All have a good and equal wage across all sectors - all have the opportunity for sabbatical and research development.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I'm on the Fine Art course at Westminster University and at first I think a lot of the students were surprised by the *amount* of timetabling and tutoring involved. Probably because it is still a degree and unfortunately the marking has to be comparable to the marking on a business degree or something. To do that, of course the tutors cannot mark how 'good' an art work is so other attributes become emphasised such as attendance, how many contemporary artists you can name whilst drinking a glass of water :P, how well you communicate with your designated tutor etc.

Now we have 'learned' that if you don't talk through your ideas and concepts with a tutor before realising them... you will be labelled as someone who 'doesn't interact/communicate well' or 'doesn't think about his/her ideas', 'doesn't grasp/have an understanding...'. I'm sure this will change when many go on to an MA, but in first and second year BA, the tutors have little confidence in your ability to think for yourself and simultaneously fulfil the marking criteria.
I think I understand your 'Utopian dream' thing, but aren't most art tutors already technically freelance (and work at several universities) as well as being practising artists?
p.s. I saw your letter in art monthly, well done.