This paper outlines a recent Australian research study examining how children understand the meaning of paintings in art. By differentiating kinds of pictorial reasoning the study outlined a continuum of aesthetic learning during middle to late childhood. In the study 38 participants aged 6, 9 and 12 years, and two art teachers, adopted the role of a curator and constructed an exhibition of portrait paintings. These young curators provided critical reasons in justifying their choices of portraits. Their responses were analysed in qualitative and quantitative terms. The findings indicate that, with age, children are able to formulate increasingly more integrated critical judgements and ascribe intentional meanings to paintings. Characteristics of critical performances of the three age groups are described to illustrate this continuum of aesthetic learning as children advance into representational thinking. Understanding conceptual shifts in patterns of reasoning in children’s critical picture talk is an important first step for teachers to know when and how to intervene in children’s learning and assist them in building more complex interpretations of artworks as artefacts.
|Keywords:||Pictorial Reasoning, Aesthetic Development, Aesthetic Judgments, Children as Critics, Philosophical Realism, Aesthetic Realism|
Senior Lecturer - Visual Arts Education, School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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