Intentional teaching for visual arts in Early Childhood Education: teachers’ practices and perceptions
The early childhood sector in New Zealand has a long-held tradition of free play and child-led pedagogy, influencing visual arts approaches with young children. However, alongside learning through play, New Zealand’s sociocultural curriculum highlights the active role of the teacher and intentional pedagogy. This article explores the practices and perceptions of early childhood teachers regarding visual arts through a mixed methods study, including a nationwide survey and an embedded case study. Data indicated that teachers are confused about the appropriateness of taking an active role during children’s visual arts learning, and about when to be intentional versus leaving children to play without interference. Such tensions appear to be founded in contradictory theoretical assumptions, and are evident through a lack of confidence, skills, strategies and language for teaching. The authors argue that professional learning could ameliorate these tensions by clarifying educational theories and identifying intentional visual arts teaching practices that align with current theoretical beliefs about how young children learn in early childhood.
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