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Prefácio / Introduction

The titles of the three sections in this journal – Art, Education and Culture – are broadly linked together by the concept of sustainability. The problem is that sustainability is so prone to diverse interpretations that it is easily dismissed as an elusive, undefinable concept. Yet, this elusiveness ultimately lies at the heart of every relationship, whether it is the relationship between ecological and physical wellbeing, the relationship between human and nonhuman systems or the relationship between economic and environmental concerns. What is absolutely necessary is the recognition of the mutuality of heritage, culture or indigenous knowledge and politics, social justice and responsibility for future generations. Education and the arts enter the scene as beacons of hope or models of connectivity, even when connections are fraught with tensions and disagreements. The arts play an essential role in reimagining relations and transforming perceptions.

The articles in the ‘Art’ section illustrate some of the qualities and challenges associated with these relationships. The article by Patrícia Vieira, for example, discusses design processes utilised in the context of a higher education institution – the Inclusive School at the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo in Portugal. It shows how these processes and a service learning philosophy contribute to the creation of ecosystems that bring together different sets of skills.

The article by Elton Fonseca, Anabela Moura and Raquel Moreira explores the craft heritage of São Vicente, Cape Verde, and seeks to identify areas related to the management of the field that could serve to make it more sustainable over time. It outlines issues associated with the effects of globalisation that have impacted the craft cultural heritage of this environment and identifies a need for further support and research.

Also concerned with heritage, the article by Maria Belmira Gumbe looks at processes of change that dilute traditional forms of intangible heritage and ‘know-how’. Informed by theoretical and artistic frameworks associated with anthropological approaches, this article contributes to research on arts education in Angola by exploring ‘quasi-anthropological’ artistic practices that merge contemporary approaches to art-making with strategies that are more familiar in the social sciences.

The next article delves into the fields of art history and cinema to study representations of fear. In this article, Maria Celeste Henriques de Carvalho de Almeida Cantante argues that some works of art and film do not stop at a fatalistic representation of fear but also show ways of resisting this strong emotion.

The article by Assunção Pestana and Estela Lamas aims to reflect on the importance of multicultural images, questioning the contributions of the use of two- and three-dimensional drawing techniques - manual or digital - and to understand how these techniques enrich the artistic education of children and young people. They seek to interconnect different transfers of artistic contents in various educational and civil communities.

In ‘The Art of Music at the service of the Art of Life’, Maria Inês Soares presents personal experiences with music and its relationship with the notion of the sublime. She discusses influences on her own practice and thought as well as her own influence on others through her pedagogical work. This brings us back to our earlier reference to ‘relationships’ inherent in our work with others and the arts. Beyond the actual musical sound, one finds subtle, therapeutic interconnections that link the moment of the sound’s production with its reception by others.

Employing a set of different art forms, ‘Free Access to Tales by Lusophone Authors’ by Glória de Sousa explores playful ways of introducing Lusophone authors to children who do not have access to such literature. By making use of graphic design, the exercise serves to promote the value of literacy and also disseminates information about these authors with different sectors of the general public.

While Glória de Sousa’s article clearly has educational undertones, the articles that are included in the ‘Education’ section explore more explicitly pedagogical aspects and issues of criticality in learning and training.  The first article in this section by Sofia Filipa Moura Simões describes and analyses a project in which a group of students from the Basic and Secondary Education sectors in Portugal participated in various sessions in musical theater to help them recognise the value of Human Rights and Health. Moreover, this educational work served to develop criteria that are central to Portugal’s National Strategy of Education for Citizenship.

Dilma Janete Fortes, Anabela Moura and Yinan Li write about an old Chinese craft tradition, the Nanjing brocade. They discuss the meanings and cultural value of its patterns and the beauty of handmade silk fabric.  Even though the patterns have an ancient lineage, they are described in the article as a living heritage.

While Dilma’s article looks at the heritage sector for inspiration in the educational sector, the article by Margarete Barbosa Nicolosi Soares presents a number of contemporary forms of creative production to study ‘Intercultural and Decolonial Practices in the Training of Art Teachers in Remote Learning in Brazil’. The article stands for a more activist stance in education – a stance that shows prospective teachers the importance of recognising indigenous knowledge.

A similarly humanistic and critical stance towards the arts in education is presented in the article by Moira Borg Bonaci, which explores some of the challenging consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various barriers that marginalised communities have faced as a result. Nonetheless, the article aims to show how practices of socially engaged art can serve to strengthen communities and challenge dominant orders.

Like Margarete Barbosa Nicolosi Soares, Ana Peixoto studies initial teacher education in her article on the STEAM approach to education in different countries. The study is based on a case study about the creation of artifacts built by female students in an Education degree and describes the different stages involved in planning, designing, testing, evaluating and sharing results.

Isabel Vale and Ana Barbosa explore the use of photography with elementary preservice teachers in their article in the same section. The article’s focus is the learning of mathematical principles that is facilitated by the observation of environments outside the institutional context of the classroom. 

Abdulrasheed Olowoselu and Aishatu Salihu Bello study the impact of e-learning strategies on the learning environment, with a specific emphasis on Higher Education institutions in the Nigerian context. Apart from analysing the benefits and challenges associated with blended forms of learning, the authors recommendations for the implementation of such strategies in Nigeria.

The last ‘Culture’ section includes three articles. An historical methodology is employed by António Cardoso in his study of the municipality of Barcelos during two distinct historical periods. The article discusses the influence of a political regime on the cultural life and workings of municipalities like Barcelos.

The article by Adriana Luiz de Souza and Beatriz Vidal Leite Ribeiro investigates the coffee and pottery production industries in the Fluminense Valley in Brazil. It also discusses the potential of enriching school curricula with a sense of cultural identity.

The last article in the ‘Culture’ section by António Jácomo discusses the Western heritage of ethical thought and propose a new ethical paradigm that takes into account varied geographies, new cultural scenarios and different disciplinary dimensions. This article’s approach to issues of globalisation and intercultural dialogue helps to mould ethical strategies that are not restricted by cultural homogenisation.

The sheer variety of themes, geographical reach and multiple art-forms included – from music to theatre, story-telling, photography, dance and much more – make this issue of the journal quite unique and serve to build important bridges between the arts and education, while proposing critical, decolonial and multidisciplinary philosophies and methodologies.


L-Università ta' Malta

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