The Australian Curriculum: The Arts is based on the principle that all young Australians are entitled to engage fully in all the major art forms and to be given a balanced and substantial foundation in the special knowledge and skills base of each.
Complementing the band descriptions of the curriculum, the following advice describes the nature of learners and the curriculum across the following year groupings:
Students bring to school diverse backgrounds and a range of experiences in the arts. They are curious about their personal world and are interested in exploring it. In Foundation to Year 2, the Australian Curriculum: The Arts builds on the Early Years Learning Framework and its key learning outcomes, namely: children have a strong sense of identity; children are connected with, and contribute to, their world; children have a strong sense of wellbeing; children are confident and involved learners; and children are effective communicators. The Arts in Foundation to Year 2 builds on these as rich resources for further learning about each of the art forms.
In the early years, play is important in how children learn; it provides engagement, then purpose and form. In the Arts, students have opportunities to learn through purposeful play and to develop their sensory, cognitive and affective appreciation of the world around them through exploratory, imaginative and creative learning. Purposeful play engages students in structured activities that can be repeated and extended. This repetition is a form of practising and supports the sequential development of skills in the Arts. Students will learn about and experience connections between the art forms.
The arts in the local community includes the arts of all the cultural groups represented in that community and is the initial focus for learning in the Arts at school. Students are also aware of and interested in arts from more distant locations and the curriculum provides opportunities to build on this curiosity. Students learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have a strong identity, in which respect for Country and Place continues to grow. They learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling is history which can be oral or told through paintings, dance or music. Students have opportunities to participate in a variety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art forms that are publicly available for broader participation in their community. Students may also extend their cultural expression with appropriate community consultation and endorsement.
Through the primary years, students draw on their growing experience of family, school and the wider community to develop their understanding of the world and their relationships with others. In Years 3 to 6, learning in the Arts occurs both through integrated curriculum and The Arts subject-specific approaches. Some of the instinct to play evident in the early years becomes formalised into both experimentation and artistic practice. Students in these years increasingly recognise the connections between the Arts and other learning areas.
While arts in the local community continues to be the initial focus for learning in the Arts, students are also aware of and interested in arts from more distant locations and the curriculum provides opportunities to build on this curiosity. Students learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples tell history through combinations of art forms. They learn that particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories have been recorded and will explore the meanings of stories and styles in which they are told. Students have opportunities to participate in a variety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art forms that are publicly available for broader participation in their community. Students may also extend their cultural expression with appropriate community consultation and endorsement.
Students also study artworks which represent Australia’s connections with other places, the effects of these interconnections and the factors that affect people’s knowledge and opinions of other places.
During these years of schooling, students’ thought processes become more logical and consistent, and they gradually become more independent as learners. Students talk about changes in their own thinking, performance or making, giving reasons for their actions and explaining and demonstrating their organisation of ideas. They begin to recognise, appreciate and value the different ways in which others think, act and respond to artworks and consider how practices in the Arts may be enacted and sustained.
As students move into adolescence, they undergo a range of important physical, cognitive, emotional and social changes. Students often begin to question established conventions, practices and values. Their interests extend well beyond their own communities and they begin to develop concerns about wider issues. Students in this age range increasingly look for and value learning that is perceived to be relevant, is consistent with personal goals, and/or leads to important outcomes. Increasingly they are able to work with more abstract concepts and consider increasingly complex ideas. They are keen to explore the nature of evidence and the contestability of ideas, debating alternative answers and interpretations.
In these years, learning in the Arts enables students to explore and question their own immediate experience and their understanding of the wider world. Learning through and about the Arts enables students to build on their own experiences and dispositions. Students explore and engage with artworks made by others. They make their own artworks drawing on their developing knowledge, understanding and skills.
Students’ understanding of sustainability is progressively developed. They explore how the Arts are used to communicate about sustainability and also learn about sustainability of practices in the Arts.
Students learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have converted oral records to other technologies. As they explore forms, students learn that over time there has been development of different traditional and contemporary styles. Students explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art forms that are publicly available for broader participation in their community. Students may also extend their cultural expression with appropriate community consultation and endorsement.They identify and explore the social relationships that have developed between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other cultures in Australia, reflected in developments of forms and styles in the Arts.
Through the Australian Curriculum: The Arts, students in Years 7 to 10 pursue broad questions such as: What meaning is intended in an artwork? What does the audience understand from this artwork? What is the cultural context of the artwork and of the audience engaging with it? What key beliefs and values are reflected in artworks and how did artists influence societies of their time? How do audiences perceive and understand artworks? What does the advancement of technology mean to the presentation of, and audience engagement with, different artworks? This curriculum also provides opportunities to engage students through contexts that are meaningful and relevant to them and through exploration of past and present debates.