“Critical the National Curriculum. In the document ‘shape of

“Critical thinking is the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself” quote by Glaser (1941, p. 409). Critical thinking is assessing the accuracy, with knowledge claims, authenticity, arguments and requires persistence, precision and an objective analysis to judge its worth. (Ennis, 1991, 1996). Critical thinking development through the arts was first proposed by Elliott Eisner (Eisner, 1985). Eisner offered an analysis on classroom behaviour characteristics and has published the question of ‘what do the arts teach?’  (Eisner, 1985)  and he justifies the importance of a strong creative arts education.    The Australian Arts curriculum centre on the National Curriculum. In the document ‘shape of the Australian curriculum: The arts’ (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2010, p. 3) stated that “an education rich in Arts maximises opportunities for learners to engage with innovative thinkers…such an education is vital to students’ success” and further states that “as emerging critical and creative thinkers, students will gain the confidence and the tools to understand and critique the Arts in everyday life. Students will learn that the Arts exist in a process as much as in finished artistic products.” These statements acknowledge the importance of growth in critical thinking within the Arts Curriculum.     This essay supports the statements made and the development of critical thinking for students and that it can be enhanced in the process of being involved in Arts activities that enable them to create their own judgements of themselves and the world around them.     To do this successfully requires quality teaching of the arts with the appropriate skills and resources that enable the students to learn to the maximum potential. In addition,  the arts should be valued as much as literacy and numeracy subjects. Arts are important in their own right for education and allow students to find their own personal meaning and growth without right or wrong answers.     This essay will also argue that without a quality method education for teaching the arts, students and teachers miss out on valuable skills that can be used in wide range of life experiences. It detaches imagination, judgement and self-awareness.     This essay will also highlight the importance of sufficient resources and materials for teaching and for the Australian Arts Curriculum to allow sufficient learning experiences across all art areas.Art education is fundamental for young and future students.  The process of getting involved with Arts activities has been well described to involve critical thinking (Eisner, 1965) and the importance of using judgement (Ennis, 1991, 1996). Immanual Kant describes in his theory that to understand the ‘power of judgement’ has two roles, ‘determining’ and ‘reflecting’, which further divides into ‘aesthetic’ and ‘teleological’ judgement (cited in Ginsborg, 2005). Teleological judgement is the evaluating decisions of whether the outcome achieves the original goal, characterised as “functional”. (Ginsborg, 2005, p. 3) Aesthetic judgement is the ability to discriminate at a sensory level and uses intellectual opinions, desire, will, values, subconscious behaviour and conscious decision (Ginsborg, 2005).    Students who get involved in creative arts activities practice reflective and critical thinking and these qualities enhance the process of education as a whole. Art programs impact critical intellectual opinions, goals, behaviour and decision making, fulfilling a need for sense, imagination, feeling and also creates judgement and self-awareness. It requires quality education and for students and teachers to grasp the concept of aesthetic judgements, attach learning to live, personally and socially which shapes thinking and the development of intellectual capacity. (Eisner, 1985)It has been recommended that it should be an educational goal for art design to be implemented for the development of students (Council for Interior Design Accreditation CIDA, 2015). At the core of education, numeracy and literacy have always been the main focus. There is tension when schools meet with government expectations to raise the standard of literacy and numeracy while at the same time developing a broad curriculum that promotes students creativity. (Bowell p.99)     During the last 100 years, the development of a students creativity has been researched, during this time art theorists have changed their views about the role art plays in the development of self-expression, critical awareness and creativity. Many theorists have argued that it could be applied to all areas of life (Boden, 2004; Gardner, 1983; Vygotsky, 2004). While theories advocate the teaching of visual art could have changed within these years, the developmental and educational benefits have always been recognised for students.    The question is the quality of teaching and adequacy of skills in guiding the arts. To teach visual arts the teachers confidence relies on their own personal experience of their art education.  (Alter, Hayes & O’Hara, 2009) It is described that a strong link between a teachers confidence to teach the arts and their arts education learning experiences within their university courses. Providing students with the opportunities to learn and grow requires experience and skills to teach across all of the arts subjects in the Australian curriculum. There has been evidence that there is little development for students and teachers due to the lack of support and professional development available to teachers once graduated. (Alter, Hayes & O’Hara, 2009,  McKenna, 2012). Limited exposure, limited materials and time restraints for teachers can produce a lack of knowledge and gives practicing teachers little opportunities to learn and improve. This reduces the student’s opportunities for full engagement and stimulation of the arts programmes and develops a lack of reflective practices that would help their development.        It has been described that art fills the need for imagination, feeling, sense, judgement and self-awareness. (McKenna, 2012). It has also been well described that students who get involved in creative arts activities practise reflective and aesthetic thinking it has also been mentioned that this enhances the process of education (Lampert, 2006).  It is questioned that the proposed and current Australian arts curriculum structure acknowledged these theories on a high level and infuse education with the arts. The question of consideration impacts art students. Teachers require sufficient resources to teach the five subject areas while taking into consideration of staffing within art teachers.    Despite the evidence of the support in the Australian arts curriculum art programs are variable and change from state to state with programs such as dance and drama only available as an extracurricular activity and one State having legislation for the incorporation of visual arts and music in the curriculum (ACARA, 2010).  As a result of a compact curriculum, schools have had to implement a minimal art program that limits students access to dance, writing, performance, creative and visual arts. With a lack of programs available, students miss out on a meaningful learning and skills and miss out of expanding their minds in imagination, problem-solving, critical thinking, self-discovery and expression (Robinson, 2006)    Each area of art helps develop different skills for learning, builds imagination, critical thinking, judgement, feeling, sense and self-awareness, these are valuable life skills that need to be recognised, developed and used in everyday life in a wide range of situations. Due to the restricted policies of the curriculum, students with creative impulses get restricted within their thinking environment where rejection, failure, pressure and criticism to conform to the curriculum will often shut down their creative process. It is important to protect creative integrity. Students could lose their ability to sustain their own creative and critical thinking and can become dependent on others for answers and solutions. The participation in creative programs can increase the motivation and reflective process of development throughout everyday life.     Effective teaching guides the students to become knowledgeable and develop beneficial life skills and skills within the creative industries. It is important for the arts curriculum to recognize the benefits for all students and teachers to be able to learn through free thinking and expression. Programs should be strategically planned and more support provided to learning teachers as the success of students rely on how they are taught.  Creative art is an important expression of anyone’s personal and social development. There is tight control over the curriculum programs policy and it requires revisiting to allow education establishments to influence free thinking and stimulate critical thinking through creative arts.    Ultimately, all programs of the curriculum should be held at the same value, artistic programs should hold the same beneficial significance as numeracy and literacy. The arts are important in their own rights for education and for personal growth and understanding. Art allows students to learn in a different way than other subjects because there are not many right or wrong answers in art, it is a place for students to explore, experiment and find their own personal meaning and growth.

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