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Art education is the area of learning that is based upon the visual, tangible arts—drawing, painting, sculpture, and design in jewelry, pottery, weaving, fabrics, etc and design applied to more practical fields such as commercial graphics and home furnishings.
The term "arts education" implies many things, but is definable as: Instruction and programming in any arts area — including the performing arts (dance, music, theater) and visual arts, creative writing, media arts, history, criticism, and aesthetics. Within the schools "visual arts education" encompasses all the visual and performing arts delivered in a standards-based, sequential approach by a qualified instructor as part of the core curriculum.
Education in art takes place across the life-span. As a result children, youth, and adults learn about art in community based institutions and organizations such as museums, local arts agencies, recreation centers, places of worship, social service agencies, and prisons among many other possible venues. Education in art also occurs in the home as well as through formal and informal apprenticeship programs.
History of Art Education in the US
Forms of art education have varied through history, reflecting the social values of their culture. Apprenticeships of individuals were once the norm; more recently the democratization of education, particularly as promoted by educational philosopher John Dewey, has supported providing every student opportunities to create. Enrollment in art classes at the high school elective level peaked in the late 1960s—early 1970s with that period's emphasis on individuals expressing uniqueness. Currently 'art(s) magnet schools', available in many larger communities, use art(s) as a core or underlying theme to attract those students motivated by personal interest or with the intention of becoming a professional or commercial artist. It is widely reported that the arts are losing instruction time in school based upon budget cuts in combination with increasing test-based assessments of children which the federal government's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act requires. It is worth noting that while the NCLB retains the arts as part of the "core curriculum" for all schools, it does not require reporting any instruction time or assessment data for arts education content or performance standards, which is reason often cited for the decline or possible decline of arts education in American public schools.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education began awarding Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grants to support organizations with art expertise in their development of artistic curricula that helps students to better understand and retain academic information. One such model of education was created in 2006 by the Storytellers Inc. and ArtsTech (formerly Pan-Educational Institute). The curricula and method of learning is titled AXIS. http://globalaxis.org/
The Picture Study Movement
The study of art appreciation in America began with the Picture Study Movement in the late 1800’s and began to fade at the end of the 1920’s. Picture study was an important part of the art education curriculum. Attention to the aesthetics in classrooms led to public interest in beautifying the school, home, and community, which was known as “Art in Daily Living”. The idea was to bring culture to the child to change the parents.
Picture study was made possible by the improved technologies of reproduction of images, growing public interest in art, the Progressive Movement in education, and growing numbers of immigrant children who were more visually literate than they were in English. The type of art included in the curriculum was from the Renaissance onward, but nothing considered “modern art” was taught. Oftentimes, teachers selected pictures that had a moral message. This is because a major factor in the development in aesthetics as a subject was its relationship to the moral education of the new citizens due to the influx of immigrants during the period. Aesthetics and art masterpieces were part of the popular idea of self culture, and the moralistic response to an artwork was within the capabilities of the teacher, who often did not have the artistic training to discuss the formal qualities of the artwork.
A typical Picture Study lesson was as follows: Teachers purchased materials from the Perry Picture Series, for example. This is similar to the prepackaged curriculums we have today. These materials included a teacher’s picture that was larger for the class to look at together, and then smaller reproduction approximately 2 ¾” by 2” for each child to look at. These were generally in black and white or sepia tone. Children would often collect these cards and trade them much like modern day baseball cards. The teacher would give the students a certain amount of information about the picture and the artist who created it, such as the picture’s representational content, artist’s vital statistics, and a few biographical details about the artist. These were all included in the materials so an unskilled teacher could still present the information to his or her class. Then the teacher would ask a few discussion questions. Sometimes suggestions for language arts projects or studio activities were included in the materials.
The picture study movement died out at the end of the 1920’s as a result of new ideas regarding learning art appreciation through studio work became more popular in the United States.
Smith, Peter (1986,Sept.) The Ecology of Picture Study, Art Education[48-54].
Approaches to Art Education
There are thousands of arts education curricular models or models for arts or arts-based professional development for teachers that schools and community organizations use. Here are two prominent models:
- A six-fold model divided into "Creative-Productive, Cultural-Historical and Critical-Responsive” components in Canada
- In the U.S.A., Discipline Based Art Education covers the same content in terms of four fields; Aesthetics, Criticism, History and Studio Practices
In most systems, “criticism” is understood to be criteria-based-analysis established on acknowledged elements of composition and principles of design which often vary in their verbal articulations, between the different art discipline ambits (applied, fine, performing, & etc.) and their many schools.
Some studies show that strong art education programs have demonstrated increased student performance in other academic areas, due to art activities' exercising their brains' right hemispheres and delateralizing their thinking[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Also see Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Support for art education, however, varies greatly between communities and between schools in various communities.
Art education is not limited to formal educational institutions. Some professional artists specialize in private or semi-private instruction in their own studios. One form of this teaching style is the Atelier Method. Another is an artist apprenticeship in which the student learns from a professional artist while assisting the artist with their work.
National organizations promoting arts education include Americans for the Arts including Art. Ask For More., its national arts education public awareness campaign; Association for the Advancement of Arts Education; Arts Education Partnership; and the National Art Education Association.
- Art school
- Teaching Artist
- Visual Culture
References & Bibliography
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