The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education

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Quality arts education bring out multiple benefits. What constitutes high quality arts education is positively correlated to the reason for teaching the arts. Many art educators believe that one of the important aspects of arts education is to cultivate broad dispositions and habits of mind, especially the ability of think creatively and make connections. The excellence of an arts education should include review on its fundamental objectives. Many regard arts education as a mean to the nurturing of aesthetic awareness and visual observation skills among students; and serves as platforms for self-expression and self-exploration. The singular objective of an arts education programme is to create rich and complex learning experiences for all students, engaging them on many levels and helping them to learn and advance through various aspects.

Decisions and decision makers have influence on quality. Decision makers are key figures in the quality of arts learning experiences. The various groups of decision makers include those quite distant from the classroom (e.g., administrators, funders, policy makers), those just outside the room – notably program staff and parents, and those who are “in the room” (students, teachers, artists). While decisions made by those “in the room”, particularly those of students, have great influence to support and undercut the quality of learning experience; the role of student choice is often omitted in discussions of quality. Besides focus on quality, another important factor to consider is the misalignment of ideas among decision-makers about the embodiment of quality often complicates the design of a quality programme framework.

The tools designed to help decision makers resolve the challenges of reflection and alignment to achieve quality include:

  • The Learning Purposes of Arts Education: A tool or reflecting on visions and actions.
  • Four Lenses on Quality: A tool for identifying specific elements of quality in an arts learning experience.
  • Examining the Base: Foundational Issues. A tool for reflecting on foundational program matic decisions.
  • Three Circles of Decision Makers: A tool for exploring who makes decisions that influence quality, and how these decision makers work together

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