African Caribbean Pupils and Art Education

Dash, Paul. 2008. African Caribbean Pupils and Art Education. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This work looks at the implications for teaching art and design to children of African Caribbean heritage in the British educational system. It is organised in three sections. The first provides the broad rationale for the thesis and includes an analysis of viewpoints on the diasporic state, this instead of a literature review. It asserts that children of African Caribbean and wider diasporic backgrounds are disadvantaged by not being made familiar with material from their cultural heritages. This has come about, I argue, by the enduring effects of the rupture that was the slave trade and the lack of acknowledgement of the significance of the black presence in the West. Consequently, the study contends, diasporic peoples are rendered invisible. The thesis asserts that culture as a context for teaching is fundamental to art and design education. Therefore African Caribbean learners, whose cultural heritages are not seen, are disadvantaged and appear culturally impoverished relative to· others. To substantiate this critical viewpoint, key texts by theorists on diasporic studies are referenced and analysed. These include David Dabydeen, CLR James, Stuart Hall and Kamau Brathwaite. My intention in this first section, therefore, is to throw light on the tensions surrounding the black subject, their lack of a positive presence in the critical and contextual material that children are exposed to and how this tension impacts on the teaching of art. The values disseminated in such pedagogies are central to the enquiry.

Section two is dedicated to the presentation of the research findings. Six London-based art and design educationalists that work in environments with high numbers of African Caribbean students are interviewed about the undergirding rationale that drives their work. Four of the educationalists are black. This number of black teachers was selected in the expectation that they would have a particularly high commitment to black children's learning, and as such would have experimented with pedagogies that take account of their learning needs. The outcomes are, however, at times very different from what I had anticipated. This element of surprise is fundamental to the research and the analysis of the meanings embedded in such unexpected material is critical to it. One group of six African Caribbean young people from south London was also interviewed. This interview provided an opportunity to garner information from African Caribbean learners on their experience of state education. The short interview with them furnished critical viewpoints that throw light on young people's perceptions of teaching and learning in London schools.

The third section presents a theoretical analysis of key points emerging from the data that could have a bearing on African Caribbean student learning in art and design. Finally, the concluding chapter reflects on the findings in the thesis and provides a pointer to their significance for teachers and school pupils.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


art and design teaching, children of African Caribbean heritage, children of wider diasporic backgrounds, African Caribbean students, British educational system, cultural heritage

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Jun 2020 10:33

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:44


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