Region: North America
Following publication of Education through Art urging that the arts be the nexus for education (Read, 1943), the horrors of World War II concluded and the groundwork was laid for the UN and UNESCO to come to life as NGOs, in order to foster peace and cooperation, inspiring the creation of InSEA as a UNESCO partner. Tragically, more than 70 years after the UN, UNESCO and InSEA were established to promote world peace, understanding, resource-sharing and connections, particularly through education, the world situation today is dire: From Afghanistan to North Korea, Venezuela to Ghana, Syria to Nigeria, Turkey to Ivory Coast, humans are starving, persecuted, besieged and murdered daily. Partisanship and nationalism are triumphing in some countries, challenging international cooperation and peace. I write this in the age of “Brexit”, of the Trump presidency, of corrupt governments and brutal dictatorships globally; of terrorism via cyber warfare, sieges, bombings, rapes, unjust imprisonments, focused attacks on ethnic and gender groups, brutal torture and beheadings, opportunist, personal, power and profit agendas that continue to triumph, and that privilege personal and group interests rather than a sense of global responsibility, peace, common sense and care for the unknown other. Set against this backdrop of global horror, UNESCO’s ongoing concern with ensuring access to education as a fundamental human right simultaneously mirrors InSEA’s mission rooted in Herbert Read’s notion of education through the arts, not just as an essential fundamental human right, but as a central and critical necessity in order to build understanding and humanize the unknown other, enhancing lives and global peace.
I teach graduate courses in education and art education, including research methods, arts based methods and arts education curriculum (see CV) and I continue to supervise numerous graduate students’ thesis work. I’m a practicing painter. My scholarship in visual arts education has evolved from focusing on aesthetic values inherent in criteria for assessment of studio art in Arts Propel, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate to epistemological and aesthetic gaps between high school and tertiary-level art. Situated in social, cultural, political, gender, race and class contexts, my recent work on the body and clothing has moved to a focus on the aesthetics of youth culture in which the body and clothing are examined through visual images and texts as evolving and situated. With regard to service, I am a former president of the Canadian Society for Education through Art and I have served as an elected World Councilor for the International Society for Education through Art. I served as a university administrator for 15 years, most recently as Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University: 2010 to 2015. Currently, I am Chief Examiner of Visual Arts for the International Baccalaureate Organization. My experience with IBO began in 2000 as an examiner of visual arts. I was Deputy Chief Examiner from 2005 to 2010, and I have served as Chief Examiner of Visual Arts for IBO since 2015. Education is a key global human right. I deeply value InSEA’s vision and mission of serving global peace and understanding through art education. To this end, my focus in art education embraces the local and global, the particular and the universal.
I am interested in joining the InSEA World Council again in 2019 to continue my work for and with InSEA. I summarize my earlier work for InSEA here: As a member of the InSEA Networking subcommittee during my time on World Council, my first task was to identify and create links between InSEA and Canadian and US art education associations at the state, provincial and national levels, as well as connections with key individuals and organizations in the Caribbean and Mexico where no professional art education associations exist currently. These links are now included on the InSEA website and they offer key connections globally. Second, in Summer 2015, I was at a regional InSEA conference in New York. At this conference, World Council members engaged in reflection on InSEA’s mandate, and we spoke about the need to assess the status of art education globally, or, as globally as possible. I volunteered to lead in this work, with the support of the President, Dr. Teresa Eca and World Councilors. With Teresa’s help and support, I distributed an open survey to 37 participating World Councilors and art education colleagues who represent art education in 33 countries. The findings can be found on the InSEA website, along with support material (hard data) in the form of Appendices. They indicate that differentiated art education curricula exist, yet globally, studio art dominates. Generally, art teachers have undergraduate degrees, while funding for resources is very uneven globally. Typically, art education is taught at the elementary level; in secondary schools, art is offered as an elective. Contextualized by recent comparative international studies, findings suggest that learning through the arts creates meaning, contextualizes and galvanizes understanding, and facilitates connections and creative ways of thinking about ourselves, our cultures, our ideas, and the world.
It would be my honour and pleasure to serve InSEA again in whatever capacity I can, given the need for ongoing advocacy, networking and partnership management and creation. I see InSEA as hugely important particularly currently and globally: It is the world’s leading international art education association, composed of a prominent group of international art educators, all of whom are visible within the field and beyond. InSEA's ability to promote art education lies in its historic and strategic connections. As an entity with its roots in education through art, InSEA is needed now more than ever as a focal resource hub for art education globally. I will bring my experience as a practising artist, scholar, teacher and administrator to the InSEA table, to forge new connections, to advocate, and to build resources, partnerships and strengthen the organization as well as art education theory and practice globally. I believe teaching and learning through the arts creates meaning and context; it galvanizes understanding, facilitating connections and creative ways of thinking about ourselves, our cultures, our ideas, and the world. Our understandings of and practices in the arts are always about becoming, about change internally and externally, about unfolding and constantly shifting feelings and ideas, inextricably connected within the habitus of one’s own heart and mind to the hearts and minds of individual and global others.
Fiona Blaikie has a PhD from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in Education at the University of British Columbia. She is a Professor of visual arts education at Brock University, Canada. Her scholarship has evolved from focusing on aesthetic values inherent in criteria for qualitative assessment of studio art to epistemological and aesthetic gaps between high school and tertiary-level art education, arts informed research, social theory on the body and clothing, gender, visual and cultural identity. Fiona is a former president of the Canadian Society for Education through Art. She has served as a university administrator for 15 years, most recently as Dean of the Faculty of Education at Brock University. Fiona has served as as an elected World Councilor for the International Society for Education through Art, and currently she is Chief Examiner of Visual Arts for the International Baccalaureate Organization.