From Foundation to Future Artists

An Introduction to Foundation courses in British Art Education

“All of this proceeds from a point where Marx reminds us that the ultimate foundation remains living experience, living production…”
(Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler, Spectrographies)

Text by: Yiou Peng

The research department at Tate Modern has dedicated five years to the on-going project ‘Art School Educated’, focusing on the curriculum, development and institutional changes in UK art schools from 1960 to 2000. When the Tate’s project ends in February, the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) will present a symposium titled ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Art Schools So Different, So Appealing?’ which will discuss the legacy of the UK’s ‘self-organised, experimental and alternative’ education models and ‘interrogate’ the content of art and design education. Such awareness and emphasis on art education is not surprising as London is considered a heavenly playground for design, fashion, art and creative industries. The topic of ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Art Schools So Different, So Appealing’, is also constantly questioned yet confirmed by the growing number of international students coming to art institutes in England to pursue their artistic dreams. However, what exactly are the elements which have been built into the pedagogical system that makes art education in England so ‘different’ and ‘so appealing’? The structure of the foundation course accounts as one of the most crucial aspects in illuminating how secondary art education and higher education is bridged.

“藝術教育學校(Art School Educated)”是一個泰特現代美術館研究部持續了五年的研究項目。此項研究專注於探究英國藝術院校從1960年到2000年期間課程設置的發展和教學體制的變化。在“藝術教育學校”的研究即將在今年二月畫上句號的同時,當代藝術研究院(ICA-Institute of Contemporary Arts)將舉辦一個題為“為何當今的藝術學校如此不同,如此誘人?”的學術會議來討論英國“自我組建、實驗和非正統”的教育模式。與此同時,來嘗試“質疑”藝術和設計兩門學科所涉及的教育內容。英國本土對於討論藝術教育的重視其並不是出人意料之外的。特別是在倫敦,這個被譽為是設計、時裝、藝術和文化創意產業的的天堂般的“遊樂場”。於是,這個“為何當今的藝術學校如此不同,如此誘人”的命題也逐漸被越來越多抱有其藝術夢想而遠道英國求學的國際學生們所質疑并認同。然而,到底是什麼元素使得英國的藝術教育體制如此不同并具吸引力呢? “基礎課程(Foundation Course)”的設立是不容忽視的,特別是其對於中等教育、高等教育,以及藝術實踐這三者之間的銜接和轉換所具有的強大的、首屈一指的影響。

.NPG x1469; Sir William Menzies Coldstream by Sarah Quill

According to UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), the foundation course is designed to transit students from their secondary education into higher education – combining academic study with practical work which eventually focuses on a specific discipline. It is considered good preparation to allow students to experience a wide range of subjects, equipping them with relevant skills in different practice fields. For example, before the students make their final decision regarding the specific subject they are going to pursue at university, the foundation course allows students to experiment with different media including painting, drawing, and photography. The length of the foundation course varies from one year to two depending on the specific programme which is usually provided by either a secondary school or a university.

根據英國高等院校入學申請機構(UCAS-The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service)的定義,“基礎課程”通過對於某一領域的理論學習和實踐學習兩個層面來幫助學生實現從中等教育到高等教育的過渡以及轉換。教育工作者們認為基礎課程對於學生們來講是一個非常必要並且有效的學習過程,因為這樣的課程允許學生們在一個廣泛定義的領域內,盡可能地嘗試不同學科的學習來獲取一些基本的技能和知識。例如對於希望學習藝術和設計的學生們來講,相對應的基礎課程會讓他們去嘗試不同的藝術媒介包括油畫、素描、攝影等等,從而讓學生們發現更多自己的興趣所在。這樣的經歷和知識可以有效地幫助學生選擇自己在大學想要學習的某一項更加具體的藝術學科。基礎課程的長短為一年到兩年不等,取決于具體的學校和學校學科的要求。

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