Kylie Neagle discusses the import role of art in engaging young people with their communities

New research findings on maintaining excellence in teaching and learning are coming thick and fast at the moment, and they are inevitably followed by new recommendations from advocates far and wide. While proposals for dramatic shifts in approach can be overwhelming for all stakeholders, Learning at the Gallery remains primed in its mission to accommodate the needs of teachers and, ultimately, the children in their care.

In March of this year the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence, chaired by Mr David Gonski, AC, was released, identifying three priorities and making recommendations across five key areas. These include strengthening school–community engagement and prioritising collaboration, with the aim of equipping every child with the tools they need to be a creative, connected and engaged learner in a rapidly changing world.

Learning at the Gallery values community engagement and promotes collaborative learning among students, both during visits and through our interpretive resources. In order to deliver relevant and practical resources for learners of all ages, it is vital that we collaborate with other cultural institutions. Most recently we teamed up with the Learning team at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Together we developed a comprehensive learning resource for the exhibition John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new, highlighting the importance of community and prioritising the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum, which include critical and creative thinking and social awareness.

In addition to providing exhaustive content about John Mawurndjul and his arresting works of art, this online resource is a means by which students can investigate ideas relating to cultural maintenance, the role of the artist, and contemporary practice, as well as explore different ways of reading images. Students are presented with the opportunity to understand diverse perspectives while working both independently and in collaboration with others.

John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new closes on 28 January 2019, but this online resource will continue to develop young minds long after the exhibition’s conclusion. With many works by John Mawurndjul in the Gallery’s permanent collection, the resource will serve as an ongoing support for educators, enriching student learning about Aboriginal people and culture. By emphasising alternative viewpoints and providing opportunities for students to reflect, inquire and generate ideas, this resource will equip them with the fundamental skills that enable them to succeed in an ever-changing world.

Kylie is Education Officer at AGSA, a position supported by the Government of South Australia through the Department for Education. This article first appeared in AGSA Magazine Issue 32, 2018.