This article offers findings from research that examined the visual art beliefs and
pedagogy of early childhood educators and supports reflection about the educational
merit of different types of visual art experience offered to children. The range of visual art
experiences typically delivered in early childhood education settings varies significantly
in method and purpose, yet there is little guidance to support early childhood educators
to evaluate the visual art experiences they include in the curriculum or to consider
their role as art educators. At the same time, the research literature suggests that pre-
school educators lack confidence to make and teach art and that their visual art subject
knowledge is limited.
Qualitative case study research examined the visual art beliefs and pedagogy of twelve
educators located in four Australian early childhood education settings. Data collection
methods included interviews, environmental audits and analysis of pedagogical
documentation about visual art provisions. John Dewey’s philosophies of democracy,
education and art synthesised with the philosophy and pedagogical values of the Reggio
Emilia educational approach support interpretation and analysis of the research data.
In particular, Dewey’s philosophy of consummatory experience and growth alongside
Eisner’s discussions about visual art myths and null curricula guide reflection about
visual art provisions in early childhood contexts. A continuum of visual art experience
is proposed to support reflection about the types of experience that potentially mis-
educate and lead to visual art stagnation compared with experiences that may foster
consummatory and educative growth.