Myllyntaus, Oona: Pedagogy of Public Art: Meanings of the teaching use of artworks in the early 21st-century learning environments

Learning environments in basic education and pedagogical materials and tools are becoming more and more digital. This presentation will question the central tendency of the learning environment thinking according to which the use of ICT and activating furnishing solutions are the primary supporting elements of a comprehensive school’s physical learning environments. The physical learning environments will be discussed from the perspective of applied aesthetics and pedagogy of art by focusing on school architecture and the teaching use of public art in learning environments. For the more diverse school design and pedagogical use of school facilities the task for this PhD study has been to explore the opening up of possibilities for teaching and learning in basic education. The research questions were: why and how visual art teachers integrate public art in school curricula and what these teachers promote through public art. The research data consists of survey answers on public art in school by visual art teachers in Finland nationwide (n=50) and theoretical literature on learning environment thinking and art education. Qualitative content analysis of the survey data is supported by close reading of literature and research on context-based learning (CBL) and theory on knowing through art, where learner-centeredness and experience are in a central position. The theory-driven content analysis of the data shows how school aesthetics is utilized to reinforce transversal competencies and 21st-century skills in basic education, in particular. The presentation will further assess the potential of diversified and ambiguous works of public art as one form of arts integration. In sum, the study complements the understanding of learning environments with the concepts of aesthetic experience and aesthetic living. Further research will be suggested as a pedagogical reflection on functional learning, where students can orientate in the school facilities and can work in different ways as they feel natural. Another possible further study would be to concentrate on the approaches that combine the use of ICT and transformative space and furnishings as well as the pedagogical use of public art school in order to create new practices in the 21st-century comprehensive school.