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Lesson Plans


[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 12:03:21 +0000

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There have been a few messages posted in artsednet recently about
child art competitions. I believe it is very difficult to see any
advantages in subjecting young children to the mind-set involved in
competitons. It is impossible to do so in Art.
The Australian Institute of Art Education has adopted a national
policy on this issue. It includes a number of alternatives to art
competitions, replacing them with interesting and productive
activities of benefit to child, school and community.
Here is the policy:



The Australian Institute of Art Education (AIAE) encourages the exhibition of children's art,
craft and design activities for the following reasons.

. An exhibition, by the very nature of its attractive and visual presentation,
communicates quickly and easily, a wide variety of ideas related to media,
concepts and teaching strategies.
. Exhibitions encourage child participation in art activities and programs.
. For parents, teachers, educational administrators and the general public,
exhibitions are visible proof of the achievement of children in art,
craft and design.
The Institute believes that exhibitions should form a regular and positive
component of all art programs, and that explanations of educational purposes
and resultant child learning should always accompany the exhibited works.


AIAE discourages child art competitions for the following reasons.
. Art educators are concerned for the learning processes of all children,
but art competitions are concerned with only a select few.
. Art competitions may assist and encourage some children. However,
the vast majority are discouraged by this activity. Art competitions
are therefore inconsistent with the ideas of comprehensive primary and
secondary education.
. A fundamental aspect of art education involves a co-operative sharing of
thought and emotions, resulting from wanting to participate in a
communicative activity. Art competitions are at variance with this philosophy.
. There are occasions when child art competitions fail to recognise the intended
educational objectives of art programs. Instead, winning children are often
judged on the basis of arbitrary criteria, derived from the qualities of adult art.
This is contrary to sound educational practice.
. Art competitions can work against the most appropriate development of
children learning in art, as they often impose adult motifs, concepts and
standards upon the child.
. Art competitions tend to encourage plagiarism and, since they rarely require
any real proof that the entrant produced the work entirely unaided, are open to
questionable practices.
. Promoters of child art and youth art competitions are often commercial
organisations more concerned to promote their own interests than to foster art
Although worthy charities and causes sometimes seek to raise funds or
publicise their concerns by sponsoring art competitions, it is clear that both art
education and worthy causes would be better promoted in other ways.
For these reasons, the policy of AIAE is that fund raising, or publicity of
worthwhile causes, through children's art is best promoted by exhibitions.


There are alternative ways of achieving the same educational or community
service objectives through more positive learning activities.
It may be appropriate for children to
* participate in small discussion groups or debate significant issues in a large forum
* participate in cross-curriculum projects
* respond to open-ended problem solving which may require personal research
* exhibit art works on specific themes. Instead of competing for prizes, each
participating child could be given a certificate. If prizes are considered to be
necessary, then they could be awarded to the class or school that records the
most visitors attending the exhibition.
* consider, as an alternative to poster competitions (which are often arranged
as publicity gimmicks), a workshop at which parents, children and teachers
work co-operatively to produce posters.


Organisations who wish to promote exhibitions of children's work should be
encouraged. Instead of offering prizes to individual children, sponsors could
* donate art books to the school library
* donate original works of art or reproductions to the school
* sponsor an artist-in-school program
* provide quick change frames for display of children's works around the
school and community
* establish a slide library to assist the school art appreciation program
* sponsor an excursion to an art gallery
* assist the school to hire art appreciation films
* organise artists to visit the school.
Exhibitions should form a regular and positive component of all art
programs and explanations of their educational purposes should always
accompany the exhibited works.

Dr Phil Perry
Faculty of Education
Monash University
Vic 3199

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