All I want to do is make things: class, men and art and design higher education.

Broadhead, Samantha ORCID logoORCID: (2017) All I want to do is make things: class, men and art and design higher education. Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 19 (2). pp. 47-62. ISSN 1466-6529


Working class men are under-represented in art and design higher education. This article explores the experiences of one such mature student who had fulfilled his dream to go to an art college later in life in order to study a degree in Interdisciplinary Art and Design. Using an approach based on narrative inquiry, the student’s learning journey over three years was captured through six verbal and transcribed accounts. Bernstein’s work on visible and invisible pedagogies as well as his comments on vocational education provided a lens through which to look at the student’s experiences. It argues that the strong framing and classification of his previous vocational education led the student to expect to be taught in a particular way. He found the fluid and integrated arts curriculum different to the kind of training a ‘master’ would transmit to an ‘apprentice’. He constructed himself as a doer rather than a thinker, which remained constant throughout his degree. The findings suggest that educators should discuss with students from all backgrounds the pedagogic approaches commonly used in art and design and how these may be different to previous ways of learning. Academic staff should also challenge the theory and practice dichotomy, so that students understand they are drawing on theory not only when they are writing but also when they are making. Finally, even though invisible pedagogies dominate art and design education, staff should reflect on the need for more visible, explicit modes of teaching when students are less confident in their abilities.

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