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Title:Art education for social justice: empowering marginalized Korean students through a community cultural arts program
Author(s):Chang, Yongsock
Director of Research:Delacruz, Elizabeth M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Delacruz, Elizabeth M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Parsons, Michael J.; Kellman, Julia; Witz, Klaus; Lee, Jae Young
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):multicultural art education
art education for social justice
community arts program
Abstract:The main purpose of this dissertation is to understand how students responded to a multicultural art education curriculum designed and implemented to help multicultural students in Korea develop self-esteem and see themselves more positively, while also imparting to them a strong sense of their value as individuals. I had I hoped to propagate a deeper understanding of two main issues: respect for all cultures in South Korea and an illustration of a new way in how social justice concerns function in the multicultural Korean society. This research is also important because it departs from existing art theories and classroom research in Korea, by focusing on the individual child’s response to the artistic experience and deals with their artwork on its own merits in terms of how it benefited the child as a whole. While taking theory into account, this study departs from dogmatic adherence to rigid theoretical framework and focuses instead on the deeper response of the individual child. My curriculum consisted of 14 art activities implemented as an after-school program in an existing South Korean multicultural center. My students were of Korean mixed-race origination. Their fathers were Korean and their mothers came from Japan or China. Although there were 15 total students who ranged in age levels from 1st to 6th grade, the majority of the study focuses on two sixth grade girls, Iwha and Eunbie. Their experiences were, in many ways, emblematic of the program as a whole: the challenges they faced, their overall growth, and how they came to contextualize art within a multi-cultural, social justice framework. In order to understand Iwha and Eunbie’s response to my curriculum, I used the qualitative research methodology, “Essentialist Portraiture.” This approach allowed me to understand these two girls on a deeper level. Through the use of questionnaires given to Iwha and Eunbie and interviews with them as well as examination of their artwork, I was able to gain deeper insight into how the program functioned and to use the experience to augment my growth as a teacher. Through intense exploration of Iwha and Eunbie’s art and words, I could better understand their response and contextualize it within the larger framework of social justice art in the classroom. During the course of this research, three significant themes emerged: (a) an opening up by Iwha and Eunbie in terms of feeling freedom to pursue their ideas and as a result grow their expressive capability, (b) a development of self-confidence and self-reliance in the girls to help with facing challenges in their personal lives, and (c) an overall growth in Iwha and Eunbie’s awareness of their self-value. This expansion in self-awareness was further manifested in three additional dimensions: (a) awareness of self, (b) awareness of social issues, and (c) awareness of cooperation and collaboration with others. Before this study commenced, I was convinced that art should be an essential part of multicultural education programs because it is the one common medium that transcends all cultural barriers. It speaks to the humanness of us all. After analyzing the performance of this curriculum, I am more convinced than ever that the most suitable and beneficial program for social justice educational goals is one that is grounded in a relevant cultural context and that focuses strongly on fostering empathy through art. This dissertation makes suggestions how to improve and expand the curriculum.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Yongsock Chang
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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