Is this for me

These two vignettes about teacher participants are intended to provide you with an insight into why in-career art and design teachers might be motivated to apply to this programme. Needless to say these are just examples and we anticipate a wide application from across the profession including educators working in alternative settings such as PLC, gallery/museum, health service.


Caroline, a secondary school teacher in an all-girls school in Limerick, has been teaching for 18 years and is a 5th year group tutor. She has always been keen on introducing new content into her curriculum, which she tends to do by means of school visits to Limerick’s contemporary art gallery and by each year taking an art and design student teacher; the latter she sees as a vehicle for bringing ‘fresh ideas and faces’ to the art department. Caroline believes that she is operating well-organised courses that cover a good variety of art, craft and design practices.

Her impression is that her students are genuinely stimulated by and gain a lot from their time in the artroom. She is resourceful when it comes to obtaining materials and equipment and in particular likes to devote time and energy to teaching students sound design procedures in relation to craft-orientated work. She likes also to ensure that students, especially those from lower-income families, are introduced from first year to important works of art and design from different times and cultures.

Caroline maintains some social contact with art and design teachers and is aware that teachers differ in their methods and points of emphasis. She is conscious though that she has not read anything much on develoments in the field of art and design education since she qualified as a teacher, a situation that, on reflection, seems strange to her given that she believes herself to hold a professional attitude to teaching generally. Caroline has, though, continued her artistic practice, from time to time making functional ceramic forms, mostly for presents, so she is attracted by the concept of connecting her own work with her teaching, even though she is quite unsure about how this might work.

Reckoning that her students ’private use of technology is increasing at considerable pace each year, she is concerned as well that she is missing out on the use of digital equipment and the Internet in her teaching. So there are a number of reasons why she is thinking of applying to the MA programme, chief among them being that she sees teaching as her life, she has a passion for art and design and for teaching, and is intrigued by the notion of joining an online community, especially one that would function on the basis of both shared autonomy and self-direction. She has a longish career ahead of her still but at this stage she senses that to grow professionally she needs to grow personally. She thinks she would be energised by both the creative studio element and the group work aspects of the programme, and she knows deep down that she has a lot to offer other art and design teachers in terms of her experience and commitment.


Tony, originally from Dublin, teaches in a co-ed school in Co Mayo. He only recently obtained a full-time post, having worked on a part-time basis at the school for the past four years. In that time he became involved in several extra-curricular school clubs and, as he would put it, built up the subject almost from scratch. He is proud of the way he and the students have turned the artroom into an open-plan multi-purpose space with displays of work on every surface; even the beams of the ceiling are used to suspend mobile sculpture. Tony has been a member of an artist-cooperative since moving to Mayo, he exhibits about twice a year and contributes to the group’s publications where he has written on a few occasions about the importance of regional art collections. As an active member of the Art Teachers Association of Ireland, Tony is an ardent supporter of radical reform of the Leaving Certificate examination in art, which he sees as an immediately practical means of introducing some badly needed changes in the subject at senior cycle level.

He sees himself as being pragmatic, though essentially an imaginative person who considers a degree of theoretical thinking and a good measure of team spirit to be indispensible elements in teaching. Reviewing his career to date, he is of the view that the many strands to his life - artistic, intellectual, educational, social, administrative, political – could be brought together in a more focused way as a participant of the MA programme. On the one hand he thinks he would benefit from slowing down a bit, from taking stock of his situation and from listening to fellow teachers. On the other hand, he realizes teachers need to be active in pursuit of better forms of education and that means joining with others to test curriculum and address teachers’ concerns. Tony is reasonably familiar with the notion of teacher research, finding themes and methods related to autobiographical inquiry to be very attractive given his interest in identifying the core dimensions of his work.

He uses interactive technologies on a regular basis and has looked into the possibility of setting up a virtual learning environment for the school. Perhaps his main apprehension about participating in the MA is that he feels he could become too involved in it to the detriment of his actual classroom work. But, then again, he reminds himself that a key purpose of the experience would be to bring about deeper insight into what drives and steers his teaching.