Discovering Art Through Science: Elwyn Richardson’s environmental curriculum

Margaret MacDonald
Vol 35, Number 1, p.5
Elwyn Richardson’s work at Oruaiti School from 1949 to 1962 has been almost exclusively interpreted as a unique experiment in art and craft education, partially as a result of impact of his book, In The Early World. The book is viewed as evidence of innovative departmental policies that allowed teachers wide latitude for experimentation, access to ample high-quality art materials and professional support. This interpretation of his work is, however, limiting as it obscures the scientific basis of Richardson’s approach. The art and craft work at Oruaiti arose directly out of a scientific foundation that was shaped more by Richardson’s interest in environmental study than by the dominant ideas about child art.