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Arts Education in Manitoba Schools

From Informal to Formal Accounts

January 17, 201117 January 2011

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Based on surveys completed by 430 Manitoba schools and 29 school divisions, this report examines the situation of arts education in Manitoba schools in 2006-07. The survey was conducted by Francine Morin of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education.

The study finds that music and visual arts programs or courses are much more commonly available than drama and dance programs or courses. The report indicates that “access to Kindergarten to Grade 8 programming in dance, drama, and combined arts is needed as is Grades 9 to 12 programming in choral music and dance.” Similarly, many more schools offer extracurricular opportunities in music than in visual arts, drama or dance. Teaching facilities are also more commonly available for music than for visual arts, drama and dance.

A majority of respondents (largely principals) believe that teachers perceive music and visual arts to be as important as other academic subjects, while drama and dance are often perceived as less important than other academic subjects.

The report indicates that the number of arts specialists in the province was on the rise in the mid 2000s. Typically, “classroom generalists teach visual arts and drama, specialists teach music, and no teacher teaches dance from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Classroom teachers lack confidence teaching the arts but yet are highly involved.” The study finds that, while most schools attempt to involve artists in their arts offerings, artist residencies are often of short duration. The author recommends the hiring of more arts specialists and longer-term artist residencies.

While funding for arts education was found to have increased between 2001 and 2006, the report recommends that schools and school divisions work to allocate at least 9% of their operating budgets to arts education. Currently, about three-quarters of Manitoba schools have funding for arts education that is below or at 9% of their operating budgets.

Professional development for generalist teachers is a strong need uncovered by the survey. In particular, teachers need greater skills in working with technology-based arts learning.

The report indicates that “there is a need to increase leadership capacity for arts education in the province”, such as the establishment of arts steering committees at the school division level. The author also recommends the design and implementation of learning initiatives for educators with leadership responsibilities in the arts.

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