Horizontal discourses in adult art and design education

Broadhead, Samantha ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9469-1233 (2019) Horizontal discourses in adult art and design education. Adult Education Discourses (Dyskursy Młodych Andragogów). ISSN 2084-2740


This article draws upon research from a longitudinal study (2011-2014) that sought to capture the experiences of adult students as they studied their degrees in art and design in the United Kingdom. Due to the entry qualifications to higher education held by these students they were perceived by their institutions as being ‘non-traditional’. They also tended to be mature students with a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. The project entailed the participants meeting with the researcher twice a year during the duration of their higher education. The methodological approach that was used is based on narrative inquiry. Bernstein’s (1999) theories that relate to horizontal discourse (everyday talk that is informal and specific to the context in which it is enacted) informed the analysis of the participants’ stories. It is suggested that informal, day-to-day dialogue is as important as the formal, specialist discourse about art and design in the studio. The sense of belonging seems of particular importance for those learning in an art and design studio where the students are diversified due to their age. It prevents a sense of exclusion among ‘mature' students who stand out with their appearance, clothes and behaviour. In conclusion, the author suggests establishing a relevant curriculum and developing a strategy fostering better social integration of "mature" students, which can greatly affect their sense of belonging to the group as well as educational experience directly related to the studied subject matter.

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