2.2.1 Arts and cultural education in primary education

Aspects of national policy

Cultural education in Austrian primary schools follows two main paths. On the one hand the curriculum contains the compulsory subjects musical education [Musikerziehung] art education [Bildnerische erziehung] and crafts [Technisches werken, Textiles werken], as well as some optional subjects. In addition cultural education is offered via cultural education projects, specially developed for primary schools. However, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture [Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur (bm:ukk)] has yet not formulated an explicit policy for arts and cultural education in schools.

EDUCULT, the Institute for the Mediation of Arts and Sciences, defined cultural education in schools as 'an active occupation with culture and the arts in theory and practice' (Arts Count! [Kulturelle Bildung zählt!] (2009)].

Reform of the curriculum

Following a parliamentary inquiry into musical education in primary schools, Music for the Future [Zukunftmusik] in 2008, a central working group for musical education [Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Musikerziehung, BAGME] was established in 2009. The aim of the working group was to propose a reform of the curriculum for musical education in primary schools, and to actualise, coordinate and intensify advanced musical training for teachers.

The curricula for art education and crafts have been reformed in 2008 (Lehrplan der Volksschule, 2008, p. 171 et. seq.). In the curricula for these subjects the emphasis is on perception and reflection [Wahrnehmen und Reflektieren], and on the traditional aims that stress the development of visual expression through painting and drawing [Bildnerisches Gestalten].

Reform of the timetable

A trend towards a form of all day schooling can be conceived and is also relevant for primary schools. The opportunities to integrate cultural learning into various lessons are increasing. Music schools make a big effort to work out organisational models for additional musical education, especially to learn musical instruments at school.

Music coordinators

Steps have been taken by the Districts School Board [Bezirksschulrat] to appoint a music coordinator [Musikkoordinator] at every school to support musical activities. Lower Austria is the first of the federal states to have realised this.

Integrated creative learning culture at schools

In 2009, the government issued a Basic decree for an integrated creative learning culture at schools [Grundsatzerlass Ganzheitlich-kreative Lernkultur an den Schulen]. The aim of the decree is to develop an interdisciplinary learning culture. It supports the creative use of new technologies and of multi-dimensional work and learning methods, paying attention to experimental approaches. Furthermore it encourages the cooperation between schools and regional cultural institutions.

Special emphasis on music

Primary schools with special emphasis on music [Volksschulen mit musikalischem Schwerpunkt] are still at the pilot stage within the Austrian system of education. In the interest of these pilot schools, a society for the advancement of primary schools with special emphasis on music has been established [Verein zur Förderung der Musikvolksschulen Österreichs]. The music manual of the Austrian society for music in Vienna [Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Musik, Wien] mentions 91 locations of primary schools with special emphasis on music. 
List of 91 locations