Art Education Research Papers
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How does one teach art?
- Is art merely a skill to be developed, such as grammar in writing
- Is it a higher form of expression that cannot be instructed?
- Art has been discussed in education research papers for decades; however, it is not typically associated with traditional curriculum subjects.
Because of this, art education has not generally fallen under educational philosopher’s critical eyes. Instead, art educators have had to forge their own paths in determining how best to educate students about art and creating art. In recent years, art education has been under attack as part of school curriculum. Because it is not always viewed as a necessary area of study, art education has fell victim during budget cuts. Also, students who are focused on more traditional educational curriculum have often seen art as a superfluous subject or an easy course in which to get an ‘A’.
In order to defend the importance of art education in the curriculum of American schools, we need look no further than one of the most respected and revolutionary educational philosophers in American history, John Dewey. In 1934, John Dewey published his presentations from a set of ten lectures at Harvard University on the philosophy of art. This collection of lectures is now what comprises Dewey’s book Art as Expression. Although this book is focused on art and philosophy, the contents of Dewey’s lectures have significant implications that both justify the inclusion of the arts into school curriculum and suggest ways that art should be incorporated into schools. This paper focuses on Dewey’s ideas on art philosophy and its implications for art education curriculum, as well as on current trends in art education that reflect the values Dewey states in these lectures.
Dewey tackles the question of what are appropriate subjects within an art curriculum. In summary, Dewey asserts that the limitation of viewpoint that the artist expresses will only serve to limit the audience of the art, and therefore limit its universality. In this way, art educators must both encourage freedom of expression as well as provide perspective as an observer as to what the artwork communicates.
In a way, art educators must undo, or work against, the process of education that takes place in other subjects curriculum standards. Dewey explains the indefinable nature of art, discussing how art defies classification and labels that we traditionally hold for objects, colors, and other creative processes such as music and literature. For art educators, this presents a struggle in creating a classroom curriculum where the labels that have been meticulously taught in every other aspect of students’ education must be consciously acknowledged then abandoned or ignored. This process works against the process that often the rest of a school’s curriculum is attempting to establish. Because of this, art educators must be prepared to defend their practices not only to the students, but also to the faculty and administration of the school in which they teach.