‘Critical studies is now an accepted abbreviated term for those parts of the art and design curriculum that embrace art history, aesthetic theories and the social, economical, political, religious and numerous other contexts within which the practice of art and design, exists, develops and fulfils its purposes.’ (Thistlewood, 1989.pg viii)
Although critical and contextual studies has it’s own place, referred to as ‘understanding’ within the programme of study for art, teachers should realise the opportunities of using critical studies to inform the children’s own work in terms of investigating and making.
‘Children’s making is clearly enriched through their studying the work of other artists and designers in much the same way that their language is supported through reading the work of many storytellers and poets.'(Clement 1992, pg.9)Order now
There are so many ways in which teachers can use the work of Artists to engage a response off children and inform their making. General discussions, questioning and talking, especially at key stage 1 can stimulate curiosity and interest about works of art, where as specific questioning at key stage 2 may encourage the children to give more thought about a particular piece of art work.
The introduction of the National Curriculum placed an important emphasis on ‘understanding’ in art, stressing that children’s understanding of art, craft and design should be encouraged and developed through teaching them about:
- ‘visual and tactile elements, including colour, pattern and texture, line and tone, shape, form and space
- materials and processes used in making art, craft and design
- differences and similarities in the work of artists, craftspeople and designers in different times and cultures .’