Tasmanian Art Teachers Association hosts professional learning at UTAS

Artistic: University of Sydney Professor Robyn Ewing, with Dr Abbey MacDonald and Vice President of Tasmanian Art Teachers' Association Katie Wightman. Picture: Paul Scambler

Artistic: University of Sydney Professor Robyn Ewing, with Dr Abbey MacDonald and Vice President of Tasmanian Art Teachers' Association Katie Wightman. Picture: Paul Scambler

Learning about art in school goes far beyond sketching and drawing, but is something that risks being overlooked – both from a student’s perspective, and a teacher’s.

The Tasmanian Art Teachers’ Association recently hosted University of Sydney Professor Robyn Ewing at a teachers’ conference designed to give educators some much-needed recognition, encouragement and professional learning.

Art teachers from across the state attended the conference at the University of Sydney last week, discussing their own personal experiences, new initiatives, and developing collaborative links with each other.

Dr Abbey MacDonald from the association said it was rare for art teachers to be given professional learning opportunities, often winding up feeling quite isolated and with their subject not given the recognition it deserves.

“Our association went to the Professional Learning Institute with a proposal, we would like to facilitate a very arts-centric professional learning to support art teachers,” Dr MacDonald said.

“They were on board with that, so we have partnered with them to deliver this two-day learning.”

Having a collective of art teachers in one space offered a rare chance to collaborate and workshop problems together, rather than working in isolation at each school to figure out challenges.

“That’s a big thing … the opportunity to speak with other art teachers,” Dr MacDonald said.

“They weren’t just visual art teachers, there’ve been some drama teachers, some primary teachers that have been a part of it as well.

“We’ve had discussions between primary feeder schools talking to their high school art teacher.”

Issues discussed by teachers included the ever-present need for more time for art in the curriculum, often overlooked in favour of literacy and numeracy.

Dr MacDonald said art serves students in all aspects of their lives, from reading, writing and communication, to personal confidence and beyond.

“It’s very visible, the impact of art,” she said.

“Stories are shared through art, culture is embedded through art … if you were to take arts out of all the things we did, we wouldn’t have anything.”

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