Work in Progress: An observation and analysis of how far a Negotiated Curriculum for the Arts developed during initial stages of ‘The Magic Gardens Project’ in a rural Queensland Community School meets Queensland Schools Authority Targets.
This paper documents the early stages of development of a negotiated curriculum for the Arts and other Key Learning Areas in a newly-established rural Queensland Community school, where the community vision is to use a Reggio Emilia approach. The paper offers a preliminary analysis of community perceptions and responses to ‘The Magic Gardens Project’, a project which will be the starting point for development of a curriculum which is child originated and teacher framed with learners supported by teachers, parents, university student mentors and other community members as they plan, develop and use a garden for the arts and creative play. Community-owned data in the form of digital film of decision-making for all aspects of the project will be analysed and compared to map the relationships between the school’s negotiated curriculum, the learners and the school in meeting learning outcomes and performance targets recommended by the Queensland Schools Authority (QSA), with a particular focus upon the five arts strands: music, drama, music, dance and media.
As PhD research candidate in the Education Faculty of a Queenland university, my role is to lead The Magic Gardens Project as a Pilot Study in a rural location. The project’s success is impacted by limited funding, broader cultural perceptions which position the arts as of secondary importance to other areas of the curriculum, and environmental problems of drought and diminishing habitats for native flora and fauna. This project offers significant cultural and environmental challenges and opportunities for this new community school, as does the development of a negotiated curriculum which runs counter to the approach to curriculum development for the arts in particular in the majority of state and private schools in Queensland. This paper articulates aspects of the community’s journey as it strives to create an outdoor environment that reflects children’s agendas for playful and deep engagement in the arts. It reports the challenges raised by the ‘collision’ of project-based timelines for the reporting of educational research, in comparison with the more fluid timelines of a negotiated curriculum in a community school seeking to use a ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach, and it compares the negotiated curriculum and evidence of learning outcomes with QSA requirements for school reporting in 2006.
Keywords: Negotiated Curriculum, Emergent Curriculum, Magic Gardens Project, Reggio Emilia, Arts Education, Arts Environments, Community School.
Dr. Janice K. Jones
Lecturer - Expressive Arts Education, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Australia.