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Eileen Adams: Agent of change

ISBN References

ISBN: [hardback, colour] 978-1-909671-13-3 … £55.00 RRP
ISBN: [paperback, B&W] 978-1-909671-14-0 … £15.99 RRP
ISBN: [ebook, mobi] 978-1-909671-18-8 … £9.99 RRP

The print versions are available from The Great British Book Shop

A print replica ebook version for Kindles is available from Amazon.

About This Book

What are ways of bringing about change in educators’ attitudes and professional practice? This is one of the most important areas of policy-making in the twenty-first century. In this book a highly effective innovator explains her thinking and methods in relation to art, design and environmental education. Eileen Adams has wide experience in what has recently been identified as ‘cultural leadership’. Unusually, her work as a teacher, lecturer, researcher, writer, examiner and consultant covers all levels of formal education, as well as the broader, more diffuse experience of pressure groups such as the highly successful Campaign for Drawing. Many of Eileen’s initiatives have resulted in changes in government thinking at local and national levels, and development in educators’ practice both in the UK and internationally.

Eileen Adams views visual education as an essential part of general education. In education through art, she says: ‘making is central but art and design are also about making sense, making meaning and making things happen’. In this critical biography she tells the story of six years as a classroom teacher and 40 years as a researcher, innovator and campaigner. She played a key role in a series of influential projects: Front Door; Art and the Built Environment; and Learning through Landscapes. Most recently she was director of Power Drawing, the educational arm of The Campaign for Drawing. She has used strategies familiar in action research to prompt change in educational practice and sees teachers as significant players in curriculum development. In this book she gives a frank account of successes and failures, and concludes by putting forward ten policy recommendations which are essential reading for politicians, school governors, headteachers, researchers, lecturers and – most important of all – teachers and student teachers.



There is a need for general education, both primary and secondary, which questions how we choose to live, envisions better alternatives and addresses issues of our adaptation to a changing world. This requires a different view of traditional subjects, with an emphasis on visual as well as verbal literacy, and the experience of actively engaging with change.


The customary role of schools needs to be reviewed and reformed in the light of new opportunities for learning. New models for schools and schooling will be required. The alternatives need to be identified and democratic processes used to assess the ways forward.


A new understanding of the curriculum as a dynamic organism is required. Different organizational structures are needed to support new fields of knowledge and unfamiliar constellations of subjects, such as art, design and environmental education.


Visual education should be experienced in a range of curriculum areas and institutional settings, and should be framed not only in terms of art and design. It should be based on learning through making: making sense, making meaning, making things and making things happen. Visual literacy, as much as verbal literacy, should permeate the curriculum.


Drawing is an intellectual activity that should be embedded as a medium for learning across the curriculum.


The curriculum should be re-designed to encourage creativity and imagination through new relationships between teachers and students and the use of a greater range of teaching and learning strategies. Project-based learning, particularly learning through making, should feature more importantly in the range of valued pedagogies. Experimentation, investigation, research, problem resolution and engagement with the future should be required experience across the curriculum.


Standardisation in visual education should be replaced by diversification. The emphasis on monitoring and assessment should be redirected to focus on quality of experience in learning and teaching.


Professional formation and development of educators should achieve a better balance between school-based practice and a sound theoretical grounding. Research, training and development in learning and teaching should not be separated, but linked by engagement in action research.


The role of the educator should be interpreted more broadly, seen as multifaceted and not confined only to that of teachers in schools. Professional formation and development of educators should enable them to work in a range of educational and
cultural settings.


A serious review of provision for visual education in schools is required, together with accountability and progression systems that should be designed to sustain rather than restrict this area of educational experience. Professional development in visual education should be not only for individuals, but also for groups of educators to impact on institutions of which they are part. Inter-professional collaboration and advisory support have key roles to play here.


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Blog and Reviews

Further information can be found in the Blog  item concerning Eileen Adams: Agent of change and reviews can also be found on LDP’s Blog by Dawne Bell, Maria Hayes , Tony Chisholm and Tristram Shepard.