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Symbolic meanings in the Ghanaian arts : a step towards developing cultural literacy

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Symbolic meanings in the Ghanaian arts : a step towards developing cultural literacy

Ayiku, Robert Kingsley (1998) Symbolic meanings in the Ghanaian arts : a step towards developing cultural literacy. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

While the cultural policy adopted by Ghana on her attainment of political independence aims to offer the Ghanaian people opportunities to revive, preserve, and develop their indigenous culture, not much has been done in terms of documenting the Ghanaian cultural arts for both cultural record and educational purposes. This is because most of the experts of indigenous Ghanaian cultural matters are illiterates. These cultural experts depend mainly on an oral tradition for transmitting information about their culture. Communal beliefs and values, and ideas about cultural behaviours and actions, cultural symbols and images are passed on to the younger generations through stories, proverbs, and folk songs, among others. The people of Ghana have a characteristic of thinking about the world in which they live in symbolic terms. Thus, they use a wide range of symbol systems in accordance with various aspects of their social and cultural life, including the practice of their arts. Indeed, Ghanaian artistic expression is mostly symbolically oriented, serving to represent communal beliefs that are deeply rooted in historical, philosophical, social, religious, economic, and political values which form the basis of all major areas of Ghanaian cultural knowledge that gave birth to their arts. The national call for cultural revival, as well as a new urge for cultural identity among Ghanaians, today, has resulted in an urgent need for a research to document various aspects of the Ghanaian culture for use as educational and reference material to augment the oral tradition which is becoming increasingly inadequate in meeting the educational needs of the people. This study identifies and interprets the meanings of some symbolic key expressions as they are found in particular examples of the indigenous cultural arts of Ghana, namely: the visual, performing, and verbal art forms. The documentation includes the social and cultural significance (relevance) and aesthetic attributions of these symbolic artistic expressions and art forms to the people of Ghana. The documentation is done in a way that makes it applicable for arts education in Ghanaian schools. The Ghanaian cultural arts have been incorporated as an interdisciplinary study under a curriculum enrichment programme--a supporting content of the general education programme--rendering instruction in them to become an ancillary activity. This disparity between the goals of general education and arts education has resulted in the latter being relegated to the peripheries of the general school curriculum. The study, therefore proposes teaching and learning strategies for using the documented materials in the Primary, Junior Secondary, and Senior Secondary School levels of education in Ghana, using a discipline-based art education (D.B.A.E.) approach which integrates studio practice (art-making) with the historical, aesthetics, and critical domains of the arts. The resulting body of literature on the Ghanaian arts together with the suggested approaches to teaching and learning result in an arts education programme that is appropriate for Ghanaian schools. By studying the arts in relation to their own cultural context students will understand the arts they have been living with as part of their lifestyle. Their artistic skills and practices, imaginations, knowledge, and judgement will be grounded in their own cultural assumptions. In this way, students will understand and acquire the relevant literacy for effective participation in, and appreciation of their own culture.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ayiku, Robert Kingsley
Pagination:xv, 483 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Art Education
Date:1998
Thesis Supervisor(s):Mullen, Cathy
ID Code:795
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:14
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:16
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