European Educational Research Association: NETWORK 29 – Research on Arts Education

Although Arts Education has already obtained some consistency and a good degree of visibility in research and is, at a discursive level, assumed to be a recognized area by different European organizations such as the European Commission and Unesco, it still is an area that needs to be further developed and enhanced. This is directly related to the difficulty that the study of the Arts in Education encounters in its effort to become an autonomous field that lays claim to its own specificities.

Furthermore, as a discrete field of study, the Arts in Education also represent the claim that the Science of Education and the practices that constitute the Creative Arts must remain distinct, albeit related. This claim reinforces the argument that the case for Arts Education as a discipline is singular by dint of its specificity, but also holds a breadth of interests and objectives by force of the plural nature of its practice-based nature.

One of the major current problems that directly affect the Arts Education is an issue-based and functionalist focus on ʻcreativityʼ, of which Arts Education is often considered as being an expected ‘natural’ home. This fallacy is further aggravated by a further misconception by which ‘creativity’ becomes the only argument for the presence and legitimation of Arts Education within academia.

Our objection to this assumption comes from artists’ discomfort with sound-bites like that of an Education for All, at a time when education and the arts are deemed to be governed by ‘entrepreneurship’, the ‘creative industries’ and the ‘key competences for lifelong learning’. Such quick and untested assumptions tend to create a misconceived set of parameters that tend to define the field, where artists are expected to justify their presence in the educational arena by towing along with a functionalist and developmental understanding of learning and creativity.

While we take a wide view of the engagement of the arts within the formative horizons of education, we also regard the phenomenon of creativity from across a diverse perspective of what the arts in education represent for learning and creativity. The arts and education cannot be reduced to a series of common sense assumptions. Nor should they be reduced to the production of certain types of subjects, or formulaic narratives and images that limit learning and creativity into a mere study that quantifies what and who people are, and how they should be and behave.

A critical analysis of this argument of ʻcreativityʼ makes evident the fact that there is much more in the arts than the exploitation of the specific processes of inventiveness of the artistic practices. The reduction of creativity into a tool of ‘artistic inventiveness’ reveals an agenda that is dictated by the formulation of governmental technologies in the service of a hegemonic thinking and governance.

Trying to change the perceived ‘weaknesses’ of art education into a ‘legitimate’ form of scientific research urges us to re-think the very notion of research. Via the diverse practices and forms of understanding that emerge from the arts, we would like to assert the arts’ presence within the research community by reclaiming the arts’ diverse ways of doing and seeing the world beyond the immediacy of a presentism.

To ignore the historical constitution of the field and the disciplinary, moral and technocratic reasons that began to set up the arts within education as a problem of government in modernity, it is to act in blindness. At the same time, it is also to make always the same questions and find the same answers to those questions that we even do not know how do they became possible.

We thus start from our own discursive and poetic forms of doing, making, seeing, knowing and finding. What is intended with the creation of a Network for Research on Arts Education is to establish an ever-widening space for debate, reflection and action in the context of European thought, that critically analyzes the arts own diverse raisons d’être (by posing questions about the questions we ask), and aim to find and generate the arts’ diverse horizon on which human beings make and discover a broad sense of self-knowledge. This would in turn confront or confirm, dispute or reinforce the questions that stand both within as well as outwith the creative process — whether this is found ʻoutsideʼ or deemed to be the ‘same’ or an ʻotherʼ.

What drives the creation of a Network for Research on Arts Education (involving not only visual, but all the creative arts, such as music, dance, theater and performing arts), results from the research and practice-based activity that we have been developing within i2ADS (the Research Institute in Art, Design and Society, at the Faculty of Fine Arts-Oporto University) and from a wide range of relationships and discussions that we continue to establish between European researchers and research institutes, as well as the work of development shared by communities in Africa, Brazil and North America.

The lines of research that we are proposing at this early stage are threefold: a) Art, Education and Development, b) Practice and arts-based research in formal and informal contexts c) Contemporary thought, discourse and Research practices. Each of these areas unfold through areas that are grounded within (but not limited to) the analysis of educational policy, comparative studies of development of national and international curricula, teacher training, projects and partnerships between schools and cultural institutions, and the specific epistemological research in arts education.

Existing Networks in the EERA do not occupy the thematic field of research on Arts Education. The Network for Research on Arts Education is assumed as an autonomous field even though dipped into transverse and relational readings within the Sciences of Art and the Sciences of Education as well as all areas of contemporary thought.

Thus, we intend to create a new area that claims to be relevant to the annual conference of ECER, bringing together groups of researchers from different disciplines, as well as developing practice and arts-based research on Arts Education. One of our main goals is to disseminate the findings of arts educational research and highlight its specific contribution to policy and practice .

We want to promote the educational research on Arts Education within Europe and to foster cooperation between associations of educational researchers and independent top researchers within the field.

As initial convenors for this Network we have José Paiva and Catarina Martins, both from i2ADS-Research Institute in Art, Design and Society from the University of Oporto (Portugal);Manuela Terrasêca from the Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education, University from Oporto (Portugal); Fernando Hernandez from the University of Barcelona (Spain); Montserrat Rifá, from the University Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain); John Baldacchino from the University College Falmouth (United Kingdom); Dennis Atkinson from the Goldsmiths College (United Kingdom); and Marie Fulková from the Faculty of Education Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic). We also have the scientific support of International Researchers from outside Europe: Thomas S. Popkewitz (United States of America); Rita Irwin (Canada); Ana Mae Barbosa (Brazil); and Leão Lopes (Cape Verde).

The network Research on Arts Education focuses on the disciplinary discourses, politics, institutional and non-institutional practices of art education at an international level with a special emphasis on European practices. The Network 29 aims to create an ongoing space of research seeking to create alternative narratives that are based on a reflexive and critical positioning regarding the potential of arts education in within the contexts of contemporaneity. It provides a forum for discussion and debate of current issues regarding the place and the role of arts in education considering its historical construction and field of possibilities. The network encourages, within its three research fields, papers/interventions/discussions that describe and provide theoretical frameworks for i) the broad field of European policies on art education; ii) comparative and international studies in art education; iii) seeking for new narratives that take the European perspectives in confrontation with the concepts of difference and the Other; iv) partnerships between the school, museums, and cultural institutions; v) relationships among contemporary artistic practices and their actors with the school; vi) research in higher arts education; vii) art education national curricula and their development at the micro-level of schools; viii) Inscription of Visual Culture within Arts Education Research.

research on arts education; comparative and international studies on arts education; policies and curricula on arts education; arts based research; arts based pedagogy; philosophy of the arts and education; higher arts education; arts education history;

Catarina Silva Martins – i2ADS – Portugal (
José Paiva – i2ADS – Portugal (
Manuela Terrasêca – FPCEUP – Portugal (
Fernando Hernandez – University of Barcelona – Spain (
John Baldacchino – University College Falmouth – United Kingdom
Montserrat Rifá – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – Spain (
Dennis Atkinson – Goldsmith College – United Kingdom (
Marie Fulková – Carlova University – Czech Republic (