The Secondary Arts Curricula in Australia, Canada and Malaysia: Issues of policy and culture

Sharon Lierse

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The Arts are an integral part of society. How they are taught and represented in the school curriculum is a reflection of their aesthetic values and cultural significance. Moreover, they can reveal how society represents current themes and issues such as indigenous cultures, globalisation and the environment (Robinson and Aronica 2009). The three countries selected for the chapter are Australia, Canada and Malaysia. They were chosen due to their similarities in population, English as a language priority, connections to the monarchy and indigenous populations. According to the 2014 Human Development Index (HDI), Australia and Canada are classified as Very High with Australia second in the world to Norway (2016, List of Countries by Human Development Index). Canada is ranked in the top ten, at number nine. Malaysia is classified as High, classifying it as a developing country and is ranked 62 in the world. Consequently, it is expected that The Arts curricula would be similar in Australia and Canada with a marked contrast to Malaysia.

    Understanding curricula of different cultures is complicated and many factors need to be taken in account in order to appreciate variances amongst them. Curriculum documents are fundamentally important yet this is only one lens in which to understand aspects of culture. For the purpose of the chapter, the secondary arts curriculum documents were examined from Australia, Canada and Malaysia, then cultural differences were considered using Geert Hofstede’s Six Dimensions of National Cultures (Hofstede 2016). Hofstede conducted research into cultural structures with an aim to explain how people from different nations think, feel and act. From his research over 40 years and examining 70 countries, he constructed six dimensions in which to better understand different culture. The six dimensions are Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-Term Orientation and Indulgence. Through these lenses, a deeper understanding of “difference” can be gained in order to reveal more insight into how these factors influence educational systems and The Arts, in an increasingly complicated world.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIntercultural Studies of Curriculum
    Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Policy and Practice
    EditorsCarmel Roofe, Christopher Bezzina
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Electronic)78-3-319-60897-6
    ISBN (Print)978-3-319-60896-9
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

    Publication series

    NameIntercultural Studies in Education


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