New EPPI Centre Review: Art education and cultural learning
12 May 2006
Pupils from minority groups can gain a stronger sense of their identity by studying art from their own culture. But studying art from other cultures does not seem to promote pupils’ multi-cultural understanding.
These are the findings that emerge from a Government-funded review of research on the contribution of art education to cultural learning among 5- to 16-year-olds.
But the researchers, led by Professor Rachel Mason of Roehampton University, warn that the findings cannot be generalised. They come from an in-depth review of just five studies deemed suitable out of nearly 2,700 identified in their search. All five were from North America – four from Canada, one from the United States – and most were small-scale studies for doctoral theses.
They therefore conclude that ‘the extensive literature discussing the positive contribution of art to cultural learning in the United Kingdom is not supported by empirical research’.
‘The review highlights the worrying possibility that publicly funded policy in art and cultural understanding is without a significant evidence base’, they add.
The review team urges the commissioning of more reliable and valid research in this country and suggests that the Arts Council of England might do it as part of its Creative Partnership scheme.
The researchers define ‘cultural learning’ as education that enables young people to recognise and understand their own cultural values and assumptions and those of other cultures. By ‘art’ they mean visual arts.