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creating art, creating identity: Under-privileged pupils in art education challenge critical pedagogy practices

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Studies in the field of education in general, and in art education in particular, point to the contribution of critical pedagogy to the identity empowerment of pupils from an underprivileged socio-class background. Most of the studies conducted so far have examined in detail the theoretical–ideological characteristics of the critical praxis in education, but little attention has been given to the ways in which it operates in practice as part of the learning process in class. This article focuses on the meanings given by pupils from one art class in an underprivileged high school to the critical praxis, and on the ways in which they understood their identity and their social position in light of it. The study is part of an ethnographic field work that took place in the class over an entire school year. This included participant observations in 25 lessons and in-depth interviews with eight leading pupils. The findings suggest that the pupils tended to reject typical critical pedagogical practices that sought to empower them – adopting hegemonic creative tools (the master’s tools) and high-lighting peripheral narratives (ascribing a voice to the subaltern) – this on account of seeing them as reflecting and replicating their underprivileged condition. These objections suggest that critical pedagogy works in differential and unpredictable ways in underprivileged ethno-class contexts, which put its universal ideological assumptions to the test.
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Keywords: agency; critical Pedagogy; cultural knowledge; under-privileged students

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Beit Berl Colleg, Israel 2: Hebrew University, Israel

Publication date: 01 March 2013

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  • The International Journal of Education through Art is an English language journal that promotes relationships between art and education. The term 'art education' should be taken to include art, craft and design education. Each issue, published three times a year within a single volume, consists of peer-reviewed articles mainly in the form of research reports and critical essays, but may also include exhibition reviews and image-text features.

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