Notebook, 1993-

Return to - Notes for a Perspective on Art Education

Some Basic Beliefs in Contemporary Art Education - Foundations of Contemporary Art Education - A History of Educational Thought - History of Change in Art Education - Development of Psychological thought - The Values of Society - Recent Art History

Notes from: Gaitskell, Charles D., Al Hurwitz, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Michael Day, Univ. of Minnesota, eds. Children and Their Art, Methods for The Elementary School, Fourth Edition, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1982.

Some Basic Beliefs in
Contemporary Art Education

Art education today is a composite of what has gone before. The development of strong professional associations, the publication of an impressive body of literature in the field --including the burgeoning research literature, and the emergence of well-founded teacher-education programs in colleges and universities --have resulted in an enlightened group of art educators. The increased level of professional exchange through new technologies in digital communications impacts engagement . . . .

Some of the Basic Beliefs
On which Many Current Art Education Programs are Founded:

l. Both through the production of works of art and through our contemplation of them, we use the arts to help us understand ourselves and the world around us. One of the traditional and unique functions of the arts has been to emphasize individual interpretation and expression. The visual arts today continue to be a means whereby we attempt to give form to our ideas and feelings and to gain personal satisfaction through individual accomplishment. The growing complexity of our contemporary culture, including its visual aspects, also requires of every individual a capacity for visual discrimination and judgment.

2. Through the ages we have used the arts to build and enrich our personal and shared environment. Art experiences should help us understand the visual qualities of these environments and should lead to the desire and the ability to improve them. An art education program which consistently emphasizes the ability to make qualitative visual judgments can help citizens to assume their share of responsibility for improvement of the aesthetic dimension of personal and community living. Acceptance of this responsibility is particularly important during periods of rapid technological development and social change.

3. The visual arts contain a record of the achievement of humanity since the values and beliefs of a people are uniquely manifested in the art forms they produce. A critical examination of these forms can lead to a better understanding of both past and present cultures.

4. Art has four aspects: seeing and feeling visual relationships, producing works of art, knowing and understanding about art objects, and evaluating art products. A meaningful school art program will include experiences in all of these areas. A planned program in art should be provided at all educational levels from kindergarten through high school At each grade level, art experiences should be selected and organized with different emphases and different degrees of intensity and complexity so as to result in a broadened understanding in all four aspects of the art subjects: perceiving, performing, appreciating, and criticizing.

. . . . Art expression in its purest form is an expression of the individual's interaction with life. In order to create this personal statement, an artist requires significant freedom of thought, feeling, and mode of expression. Although many aspects of life allow for creative behavior, the arts are especially appropriate for creative development because of the value placed on divergency, uniqueness, and individuality

There are, of course, many other beliefs held by people engaged in art education . . . . Nevertheless, a review of literature in the field will verify that the beliefs and assumptions stated above are quite pervasive. Awareness of them will assist teachers in accepting or rejecting them as experience suggests or developing and testing new ideas about art education.


[Notes from: Gaitskell, Charles D., Al Hurwitz, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Michael Day, Univ. of Minnesota, eds. Children and Their Art, Methods for The Elementary School, Fourth Edition, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1982.]



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