Towards A More Pragmatic Philosophy Of Teaching and Learning
Pursuing the agenda of values of cultural diversity some previous Issues have emphasised the desire that UNESCO led educational policies and practices are giving to art education.
This Issues is trying to advocate for a new philosophy of teaching and learning that is not constrained by old approaches where schools have been seen as working like prisons, frustrating inquisitive minds. New trends endeavour to enforce a curriculum that is oriented towards the art disciplines such as performing arts (dance, drama, music, etcetera), literature and poetry, craft, design, digital arts, storytelling, heritage, visual arts and film, media, and photography. In this argument, background is made to curriculum policies and practices such as those adopted and used in Botswana and other nation states that emerged from colonial occupation. Many developing countries have found themselves subjected to school curriculum policies that give a false sense of reality and create myths, denying what they know. More often such curriculum is tied to old philosophies of idealism and realism that in turn inform the educational philosophy of perennialism. Under this traditional thinking, understanding and philosophical positioning, schools are seen as centres of moral, spiritual, faith development. Knowledge is seen as the gospel truth that is already given. The role of the school is seen as one of assisting the learner only to be conscious of the existing truth and body of knowledge of reality. The teacher is believed to be the master of the school subject matter and content, and as one who possesses all the truth and the right knowledge that a learner must acquire.
This is the colonial educational approach that was introduced largely through missionary work from Zululand (Southern Africa) across Africa to Kikuyuland (Eastern Africa) and beyond. Such educational philosophical approach has succeeded in creating the African elitism that many nation states to-date find difficult to decolonise. This orientation serves to create a myth that is devoid of appreciation of the richness of African cultural diversity, with which all nation states in Africa are made. As a consequence, education systems in many nation states that emerged from this development are characterized by factors of silent and open exclusion,
Progressive teachers detest the attitude of punishing children for not doing their classroom or homework. Through art disciplines, learners could develop critical thinking skills freely, determining the truth for themselves and learn more about their environment. Art education is therefore about experiential learning in which emphasis is on learning by doing, allowing collaborative and cooperative hands-on projects, hence encouraging development of the needed and more progressive problem-solving and social skills.