About the CSEA/SCÉA

Our Mandate:
The Canadian Society for Education through Art is the national art education association representing art educators within Canada. It is a voluntary association founded in Quebec City in 1955, and is the only Canadian national organization that brings together visual art educators, gallery educators and others with similar interests and concerns. Membership represents all levels of education: elementary, secondary, college/university, ministries of education, art galleries/museums, and community education.

“The arts, it has been said, cannot change the world, but they may change human beings who might change the world.” – Maxine Greene

CSEA/SCÉA Mission Statement

CSEA/SCÉA represents art educators, students and artists in schools, universities, and art galleries. We are dedicated to the visual arts as essential to student learning in schools, colleges, universities, community settings and other venues, because art education is the conduit to holistic human growth and development, both affective and cognitive.  The visual arts are implicit in and expressive of culture. Engagement in and with the visual arts has the power to transform who we are individually and collectively. CSEA/SCÉA believes students must engage in the visual arts conceptually, analytically, critically, reflectively, historically, culturally and creatively. We are committed to strong partnerships with provincial, national and international arts education organizations. CSEA/SCÉA promotes and support seminal conceptions of theory, research and practice at our conferences, in our publications, and in art teaching and learning in all public and private education institutions in Canada.

Financial information and minutes of meetings can be requested from office.csea@gmail.com.

Énoncé de mission de la SCÉA/CSEA (2010)

La SCÉA/CSEA représente les enseignants des beaux-arts, les étudiants et les artistes qui évoluent en milieu scolaire et universitaire ainsi que dans les galeries d’art. L’éducation par l’art  étant le vecteur de la croissance personnelle et du développement humain global, tant sur le plan affectif que cognitif, nous considérons les arts visuels comme une composante essentielle de l’apprentissage étudiant en milieu scolaire, collégial, universitaire, communautaire et autre. Les arts visuels sont parties intégrantes de la culture dont ils sont le reflet. La pratique et l’expérimentation des arts visuels peuvent influencer notre développement identitaire personnel et collectif. La SCÉA/CSEA est d’avis que les étudiants doivent exploiter les arts visuels sur les plans conceptuel, analytique, critique, réflectif, historique, culturel et créatif. Nous entretenons des partenariats dynamiques avec des organismes provinciaux, nationaux et internationaux d’éducation par l’art. La SCÉA/ CSEA défend et met en valeur les concepts charnières en matière de théorie, de recherche et de pratique par le biais de ses publications et dans le cadre de ses conférences et activités d’enseignement et d’apprentissage par l’art tenues dans divers établissements d’enseignement canadiens, publics et privés.

L’information financière et les minutes des réunions peuvent être demandés à office.csea@gmail.com

CSEA/SCÉA National Art Education Policy

Art is part of the cultural heritage of every society. Many art products transcend the culture within which they were produced, and affect human beings in widely differing environments and at all social levels. Art can make an impact on a scale that is literally world wide. It is therefore a responsibility of all educational agencies to recognize art education as a fundamental part of the human growth and development.

In Canada, agents of education such as schools, community organizations, museums and art galleries, universities and colleges have a responsibility to promote art education as part of a lifelong process of education. No child should be deprived of the opportunity to engage in art activity of a productive and reflective nature; no adult should be denied access to art resources and services, or to instruction where it is feasible or available.

Canadian art educators at all levels should ensure that programs for which they are responsible cover material that is appropriate to the clientele, adequate for the stated objectives of the learning enterprise, and linked to previous experience of the learner. As the national organization representing Canadian art educators, the Canadian Society for Education through Art advocates a number of steps to create and maintain such art programs .

1. Art programs are to include, in addition to international content, material that reflects national, regional and local interests. Art is international in scope, but has national and local characteristics as well. In a multicultural country such as Canada, care must be taken to examine national concerns that have particular relevance for specific groups or communities. Wherever possible, the point should be that, while a nation may be created by political action, mutual respect for the cultural difference within it holds the nation together. A complex national character may be developed and preserved through art forms.

2. Art programs are to include a common core of experiences; making art, studying art history, engaging in critical dialogue about art. Schools and other agents directly involved with learners have the responsibility of adjusting the ratio of those experiences to account for local need and situations.

All students should have opportunities in art classes to become technically proficient in their handling of the tools and media. Students should have some opportunity to profit from the potential that art possesses for conveying and expressing ideas, emotions, and personal experiences. In addition, students should know something of the circumstances in which certain art works were created. Finally, they ought to be able to apply their own experiences and their knowledge of the art of other times and other settings in the critical appraisal of their own and the work of others.

Not all the classes are alike, however, some students may have been attracted to courses in art history, or to classes that deal with a survey of all the arts, because producing art was not required of them. Others may be taking art solely for the experience of producing art, preparatory to a career in the commercial world. Promoting a combination of production, history, and criticism and appreciation is a general policy; some exceptions, created in response to specific needs or priorities are to be expected.

3. Continuity of programs within and between grade levels is to be sought and supported. Students in school art programs should encounter a similar range of experiences and materials at various grade levels, they should expect to use them in ways that are increasingly sophisticated. Concepts ought to show ever greater complexity, and topics should by degrees reflect and cater to the cumulative experience of the learner.

Continuity in programs may be achieved by building upon the outlines provided by curriculum guides. Local groups, within schools or within school districts, may be suitable agents for this task. Provincial art education associations might attempt, through working committees of their members, to produce models that schools might use. Curriculum branches of provincial ministries of education might provide leadership.

Community art programs may find continuity less of a priority, since many courses are taught on demand. Where sequential programs are established, continuity is as important as it is in school situation.

4. Community resources, particularity those provided by art galleries and museums, are to be used where possible to complement art classroom activities. Art work produced by an individual begins to make sense when it is compared with other works. Some of these may be provided by peers; others may be produced by artists of established reputation, or representatives of other cultural groups. The examination of original art works, in addition to reproductions, is particularly important, for it promotes a sense of being in direct contact with the artist who produced the work in the first place. Art galleries and museums provide a convenient milieu for activities where quality of response to art work is of primary importance. Galleries and museums, along with other public agencies, provide similar useful services to outlying communities through extension programs.

5. Colleges and universities involved in teacher education, are to include art education courses for all elementary education pre-service teachers. Generalist elementary teachers need to understand the pedagogical considerations necessary to support art programs that provide a core of experiences in making art, studying art history and engaging in critical dialogue about art. Whether the classroom teacher is responsible for teaching their own programs in art or there is an art specialist to teach art, understanding of the basic principles of art education is necessary to promote a positive attitude toward art as an essential component of the curriculum.

Specialist degrees in art education for both elementary and secondary art teachers are also an integral part of providing adequately trained art teachers for Canadian classrooms. At the secondary teaching level, where art teachers are responsible for developing and maintaining school-wide art programs, a specialist degree in art education is a standard requirement.

In-service programs, post certification diplomas and degrees in art education should also be considered by Teacher Education Institutions. Links between teacher education, community services, art gallery and museum education and schools complement the preparation and advancement of art education as part of a multifaceted process of involvement with art.

Art Exhibitions and Competitions

The National Policy for art education in Canada established by the Canadian Society for Education through Art (CSEA) advocates a number of steps to create and maintain educational programs which have integrity and are accountable to their clientele. Therefore, the National Policy provides a foundation for the development of specific guidelines. The following guidelines address the issue of art competitions and exhibitions.

The National Policy encourages the use of community resources as a way of complementing art classroom activities. The Canadian Society for Education through Art also acknowledges that art works produced by individuals may be better understood in relation to other works of art. Ideally, services provided by galleries and museums would offer students the experience of viewing exhibitions of individual or groups of artists. Experiencing exhibitions of original art is extremely important for a quality program in that it provides the student direct contact with the artist who produced the work. The Canadian Society for Education through Art also recognizes that many of the gallery and museum exhibitions viewed by art students are juried meaning that a panel of judges determine the merit of each work in relation to the whole group, or the whole artistic community.

A 1992 survey of CSEA members revealed that art educators are committed to providing opportunities for all art students to experience art exhibitions. The form and function of these exhibitions may vary, but the primary intent is to discourage art competitions. Exhibitions may be conceived as any event where a collection of art work is displayed. Teachers may provide on-going exhibitions of student art within classrooms, schools, school districts, colleges, universities, and community venues. Teachers may also wish to exchange exhibitions between schools, school districts, faculties, provinces and countries. Offering students exposure to works of art created by individuals of similar or different ages, cultures and contexts provides a rich pedagogical resource.

Teachers at all levels of art education must decide when to limit participation in art exhibitions through a juried process. Art educators strongly believe that elementary students should not participate in art competitions, whereas secondary students may be encouraged to participate in juried exhibitions.

Elementary age students should be encouraged to share their art work freely and voluntarily through exhibitions. In this way, active learning in a visual arts environment, may be strengthened through cooperation, dialogue, insight, and reflection. Art competitions usually conceived by an outside agency, are not concerned with these aspects of pedagogy. They are not designed for educational purposes but rather as promotional or public relations activities within a commercial milieu.

Secondary and tertiary age students should also be strongly encouraged to exhibit their art as individuals and within groups of artists. Ongoing exhibitions provide a vehicle for recognizing continuous artistic growth while instilling opportunities for critical reflection and dialogue among students.

Within the context of ongoing exhibitions at the secondary and tertiary levels, there may be limited opportunities for students to participate in juried exhibitions. These exhibitions would ideally be organized in conjunction with at least one educational agency and would have preset established criteria for the jury to follow. In this way, the student is assured of an educational opportunity, one in which the jurors’ response is shared with the participant, and thus, offers the student food for thought.

In Summary, the CSEA:

  • Strongly supports art programs that provide opportunities for students to attend exhibitions of art outside of the classroom;
  • Opposes art competitions for elementary age students;
  • Strongly supports art exhibitions by elementary, secondary and tertiary art students; and,
  • Supports juried art exhibitions by secondary and tertiary art students, if the jurying process provides pre-set criteria and individualized response to participants.

For the complete National Policy, download the following files:
National Policy 1997_eng
National Policy 1997_fr

Download a PPT presentation about the CSEA/SCEA here (pptx)