Exploring Visual Arts (Prim-Ed)

Exploring Visual Arts is a new 3-part series divided into 3 age brackets. 5-7, 8-10 and 11+. It comes with a CD which contains all colour images in the book. It costs €22.95 per book

Relevance to curriculum aims: 1/5

The publication is not based on the Irish Visual Arts curriculum. This book is a heavily template-d, a how-to draw book at best. It doesn’t really use differentiation as the aim( as far as I can make out) is for each child to make a copy of the image given in the book.

Assessment is referred to under “evaluation”, which is contained on each page and in a tick sheet at the back of the book. Our Visual Arts curriculum is an excellent one but as evidenced from teachers’ walls and teacher fora, it is largely ignored. The Irish Visual Arts curriculum encourages a “ personal and inventive” contribution, children are encouraged to take risks and be spontaneous. Difference is celebrated! Exploring Visual Arts is a step by step book on how to “do art” and in some lessons, it even instructs exactly how to draw a face, cat, bird etc.

Teacher usability:

5/5-If you love craft and copying.

0/5 if you believe in the Visual Arts curriculum.
It would be incredibly easy to use in the classroom. Take out your handbook, find the resources while the children are doing their busy work. Call out the instruction one by one. There is even a picture in the book that you can show to the children so they all can copy and have the same, if you’re into that kind of thing! At the back of the book, there are easy to copy templates of stars, animals, shapes etc.

Value for money: 4/5.
It is good value for money if you like the “craft, template, reproducible art” type lessons as this is your “scheme” for the year. If you follow the Visual Arts curriculum, most of it will not be beneficial to you. Some of the lessons are okay, linking with looking and responding strand or design in the natural world.

Extras: 2/5
There is a CD with each book. the CD contains the same pictures as are in the book. These are pictures of the final product. I have no idea why you might need these, if you are showing them to the children, you are basically telling them that this is “Art” and you are telling them what the final product should look like. Again, this does not sit well in the Visual Arts curriculum. I think that this CD would have been utilised better if it included artist’s work or design in nature. This way the children could look and respond to the piece of work, resulting in a visual arts education.
I would personally not use this book in my Visual Art lessons as I still think the curriculum books(although 10 years old) are the best Art book you could buy. However, I am aware that for many teachers, this book would be just what they like-step by step clear instructions, colourful, arty final product pictures and templates at the back.

Last Update: August 22, 2017  

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2 thoughts on “Exploring Visual Arts (Prim-Ed)”

  1. I am totally in agreement with you here Simon – I woukd even go further and remove the word “art” titally from your review.

    • Thanks for the comment, Michael. It’s appalling what still passes for art in schools. I still remember my first evening course with you when I started teaching and still have some of the work I did on the wall in the house!


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