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Visual arts education in New Zealand: Curriculum, promise and challenge

David Bell

Visual arts education has long enjoyed a place in the New Zealand curriculum. Institutional endorsement of the value of visual arts learning for all children has maintained its status as a core subject in schools, a secondary schools examination subject and as specialist courses in colleges of education and schools of arts. The visual arts retain their presence today, and few question their centrality to a healthy curriculum. In drawing together a comprehensive statement of subject knowledge for the visual arts, with pedagogic principles that support the subjective as well as institutional dimensions of arts experience, the current curriculum document itself provides a rich foundation for learning in the visual arts. Today, however, the subject struggles to retain its place in face of the demands of increasingly complex and competing interests within the curriculum and educational community interests schools serve. Its current marginalisation in preservice teacher education programmes, the loss in many regions of traditional support services and the increasingly complex demands on teachers and schools threaten to compromise both our impressive achievement to date, and the real potentials of the curriculum we enjoy today.

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