Author: Morwenna Griffiths; Judy Berry; Anne Holt; John Naylor; and Philippa Weekes
Institution: University of Edinburgh (in association with Rufford Infant School, Shepherd Special School, Seagrave Primary School Nottingham)
Full reference: Griffiths, M ., Berry, J., Holt, A., Naylor, J., Weekes, P. (2006). ‘Learning to be in public spaces: In from the margins with dancers, sculptors, painters and musicians’ in British journal of Educational Studies. 54 (3) 532 – 371.
This article reports research in three Nottingham schools, concerned with (1) ‘The school as fertile ground: how the ethos of a school enables everyone in it to benefit from the presence of artists in class’; (2) ‘Children on the edge: how the arts reach those children who otherwise exclude themselves from class activities, for any reason’ and (3) ‘Children’s voices and choices: how even very young children can learn to express their wishes, and then have them realised through arts projects’.
The article draws on research to argue that arts-based work in school has helped disadvantaged and/or disaffected children to engage in activities (both arts-based and others), and to be able to lay the groundwork for exercising voice and agency as they did so.
If social justice is to flourish there is a need for particular kinds of public spaces and a need to create conditions such that children can learn to participate in those spaces, whether or not they are comfortable with the usual settings for ‘rational argument’ or ‘deliberative democracy’. It is suggested that arts-based education, in some forms, is one good way of creating these conditions.
The research methodology was rooted in two modes of inquiry, philosophical investigation and action research.