Publication Details

Lindsay, G. (2016). Do visual art experiences in early childhood settings foster educative growth or stagnation?. International Art in Early Childhood Research Journal, 5 (1), 1-14.


This article offers findings from research that examined the visual art beliefs and pedagogy of early childhood educators and supports reflection about the educational merit of different types of visual art experience offered to children. The range of visual art experiences typically delivered in early childhood education settings varies significantly in method and purpose, yet there is little guidance to support early childhood educators to evaluate the visual art experiences they include in the curriculum or to consider their role as art educators. At the same time, the research literature suggests that pre- school educators lack confidence to make and teach art and that their visual art subject knowledge is limited. Qualitative case study research examined the visual art beliefs and pedagogy of twelve educators located in four Australian early childhood education settings. Data collection methods included interviews, environmental audits and analysis of pedagogical documentation about visual art provisions. John Dewey's philosophies of democracy, education and art synthesised with the philosophy and pedagogical values of the Reggio Emilia educational approach support interpretation and analysis of the research data. In particular, Dewey's philosophy of consummatory experience and growth alongside Eisner's discussions about visual art myths and null curricula guide reflection about visual art provisions in early childhood contexts. A continuum of visual art experience is proposed to support reflection about the types of experience that potentially mis- educate and lead to visual art stagnation compared with experiences that may foster consummatory and educative growth.