Leaving Certificate Art provides continuity and progression in visual art education that begins with the learning experienced in the Primary School Curriculum and is built on through the Junior Cycle Visual Art specification.
Visual Arts in the Primary School Curriculum provides learners with experiences through the two complementary strands of Making art and Looking at and responding to art. Learners experience learning in Visual Arts through the six strands of Drawing, Paint and colour, Print, Clay, Construction, and Fabric and fibre. The curriculum is structured to support the learner in exploring, clarifying and expressing ideas, feelings and experiences. They also experience aesthetic awareness, enjoyment and personal fulfilment, which helps them to acquire and develop skills, techniques and understanding. The pupils encounter the world art of the past and present where they are encouraged to use imaginative thinking, creative problem solving and self-expression.
Visual Art at junior cycle provides the learner with a set of personal attitudes and qualities as well as skills and processes and a sense of the aesthetic. Through practical engagement in the strands of art, craft and design learners develop self-confidence, inquisitiveness, imagination, and creativity. They also develop authentic, real world problem-solving capacities as they design and execute artistic and aesthetic tasks. They develop the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to produce and engage with authentic and original work. In so doing, they begin to develop the visual literacy, critical skills and language necessary to engage with examples of Visual Studies.
The recognition that learners are becoming more mature and that their educational needs must change to reflect this is recognised in the Senior Cycle Art specification. Art provides a context for students to develop a broad range of physical, technical and metacognitive skills which will support them as they take more responsibility for their own learning. While it is understood that some learners may not have undertaken Visual Art at junior cycle, they will have experienced the range of key skills and approaches available to them through other subjects. All senior cycle subjects have close links with Art. The knowledge, skills and understanding gained in Art can be used in conjunction with those developed in all other subjects to enrich overall learning. For example, the skills involved in closely observing and understanding nature and natural structures are relevant to both biology and geography; the unique understanding of primary source information gained through Visual Studies is a skill required by those studying history; the enjoyment and skill involved in creating new and personal work is also felt by those studying music.
The fundamental skill of creative thinking underpins all areas of future study and career possibilities and not just those connected to the world of art. Art broadens the learner’s ability to respond to challenges and problems, think critically and creatively and with visual awareness – all necessary skills for their future. Learners are enabled to be confident and professional in how they curate and present ideas to different audiences. These skills are recognised by employers and colleges alike as being transferable and useful in many career paths beyond the world of Art.
Community and society
In developing empathy with an artist who works with others and is part of wider society, learners gain an understanding of the needs of their own communities and the knowledge, skills and understanding of the values that help them to address issues they may be facing. They will be enabled to respond in a way that can be aesthetically and visually appealing but also meaningful. Art can be personal, but it can also be a method of social commentary in reflecting on issues in contemporary society. Through their understanding and knowledge of Visual Studies, learners will learn how other artists have held up a mirror to their world and have captured the nuances of the society of their time and made them available to their audiences for comment and to later audiences for understanding.