What is Art Education?

What is Art Education?

Siegesmund and Riddett-More argue that one becomes “literate in the visual arts” through the development of “perception” (2014, pg. 103) which they argue, uses multiple senses to process data. It is the study of “making meaning through sense” (pg.103). Traditional art education, they argue, focused on “theories of the unconscious (Freud, 1930/1961)” inviting and encouraging children to develop with as little outside advice as possible (Siegesmund & Riddett-More, 2014, pg. 103) when making and doing art. They also conclude that contemporary art education has focused on “studio production” and teaching students to “make art” (pg. 104). This approach involves learning through the making of art via the development of the ability to be expressive and the ability to appreciate “cultural norms” (2014, pg. 104). Siegesmund and Riddett-More further argue, “Through the cultural lens, expression and appreciation become the backbone of literacy in art (pg. 104). Siegesmund and Riddett-More take issue with this notion and offer up an alternative. That alternative is based on John Dewey`s (1934) “privileging perception and communication” (pg. 104). Because of the focus placed on relationships experience through multiple senses in art making students can learn new forms of thinking and communicating creating what Siegesmund and Riddett-More term “visual literacy” (pg. 104). They agree with Dewey (1934) that making art allows one to look at the same subject matter from many different senses creating many different meanings in what Dewey (1934) and they refer to as “the reorganization of space and time” (pg.105). Leavy argues the “outcome of effective art education is the refinement of perception” (209, pg. 91) Eisner wrote that one of his aims in his book ‘The Arts and the Creation of Mind’ is to ‘dispel the idea that the arts are somehow intellectually undemanding’ and ‘emotive rather than reflective’ (2002, pg. xi). He argues how the art education can ‘contribute to the growth of mind’ (pg. xi) and should be at the core of education curriculum. Leavy argues that art education should have “dispositional outcomes” and “stimulate appetite” (2009, 91) in the sense that learning will be sustained beyond the classroom environment. Eisner also argues schools ‘culture’ students in an ‘anthropological’ and a ‘biological’ sense creating ‘a sense of belonging and community’ and are a ‘medium for growing things’ (pg.3). This, Eisner argues, fosters relationships and ‘shape the experiences that students are likely to have and in the process influence who children will become’ (pg. 3). “Arts education should foster the ability to carry on those fine-grained discriminations that constitute qualitative forms of inquiry” (Leavy, 2009, pg. 91). Dewey argues ‘experience is central to growth because experience is the medium of education’ (Eisner, pg. 3) and to bring it to a point experience in education is ‘the process of learning to create ourselves, and it is what the arts, both as a process and as the fruits of that process, promote’ (Eisner, pg. 3). Eisner argues ‘concepts are distilled images … of combination of forms that are used to represent the particulars of experience’ (pg. 3). Eisner also argues the educational aims of arts and sciences are particularly concerned with taking private concepts and sharing them publically and ‘helping the young learn how to make that transformation’ (pg. 3). Siegesmund argues that the aim of art education is to develop competence in qualitative reasoning (2000) and Leavy further argues another aim of art education is that students “lean to notice the expressive quality of relationships…to compose relationships and rely upon somatic knowledge” (2009, pg. 121).  
Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York, Minton, Balch & Company. Freud, S. (1961). Civilization and its Discontents (J.Strachey, Trans.).New York, NY: Norton. (Original work published 1930). Leavy, P. (2009). Method meets art. New York: Guilford Press. Riddett-Moore, K. and Siegesmund, R. (2014). The Visual Space of Literacy in Art Education. In: P. Smagorinsky, ed., Teaching dilemmas and solutions in content-area literacy, grades 6-12, 1st ed. Thousand Oaks: Corwin, pp.103-131. Siegesmund, R. (2000). Reasoned Perception: Art Education at The End of Art. Ph.D Philosophy. Stanford University.

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