UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Heng, Edmund Aik Ming
National Institute of Education
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

An Academic Exercise submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for Bachelor of Arts (Hons)


There is often a disjunction between the theories of art education and their actual practices. This is rather complicated by the context of the educational system, where crucial questions exist in what type of knowledge and skills are being imparted and who makes those choices and how is it being regulated. This can also be referred to as the "curriculum". The concept of "curriculum" can be used in two different ways. One concept generally refers to everything teachers teach and students learn in school. Another is the educational plan laid down in some type of official document defining the aims, content, resources, pedagogical strategies and assessment practices of education in a country. Both concepts shall be examined in this paper.

The purpose of this Academic Exercise is to obtain insight into how the new syllabus and curriculum package is being utilized by secondary school art teachers, in particular the 2001 Lower Secondary Visual Arts Syllabus. This would determine the relation of the syllabus to the way teachers view their teaching. Silbennan's comments that "the banality and triviality of the curriculum in most schools has to be experienced to be believed" provided the impetus for a ground investigation of what is actually being taught and learnt in our secondary schools today (Silbeman 1970, p.28). The link between art teachers' beliefs and practices is examined and this is has further complications when we bring in the expectations of the art curriculum.

The study will first trace the development of the art curriculum in Singapore and discuss its changes within the larger field of education. This sets the platform for an investigation into how the implementation process of the new syllabus is being perceived by the secondary school art teachers involved in this research. The intention is to study how the new syllabus would operate within the complicated structure of educational policies, school autonomy, curriculum reorganization and the response of the individual. This would hopefully begin to answer the question of where the art syllabus ends and the teacher begins. 

There are two primary sources of data for this paper, the first being research material consisting of the available curriculum resource material, government reports, press releases, journal articles and other related literature; and the second being field data from the investigative research.

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