Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education

By Elliot W. Eisner; Michael D. Day | Go to book overview
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Emerging Visions of Art Education
Arthur D. Efland
The Ohio State University


This section of the Handbook explores the role that educational visions play in charting the future of art education. “What are educational visions, and “why do they arise periodically throughout history? Why do specific visions achieve dominance within educational theory, and what is their role in shaping practice in art education? What kind of research and policy issues are brought into play when new visions seize the professional imagination? Is the conceptual articulation of a vision a form of research, a declaration of educational policy; or are they forms of advocacy?

In A History of Art Education (Efland, 1990), I identified a series of trends or streams of influence coursing through the past 2 centuries, each having their origins in opposing conceptions of the individual, the nature of knowledge, the role of the visual arts in social and cultural life, and in rival educational purposes. The visions that dominated the last 100 or so years were responses to the challenges of modernity, which ushered in unprecedented changes in the forms of work, in economic and social organization, and especially in new forms of art. Each critiqued the practices in art education of its day, offered remedies, and promoted reform. They weathered periods of conflict before gaining acceptance and changing established practices.

Each chapter in this section offers a series of potential visions for the future of art education. Each expressly or by implication offers its critique of current practice. Definitions of “current practice” vary from writer to writer. For some, current practice might be an art education grounded in traditional studio practice, whereas for others it may be discipline–based art education (DBAE) prominent in the 1980s. Others see their position as a refinement or elaboration of the discipline–based position, whereas others abandon it in pursuit of differing directions. To understand the nature of educational visions, I compare it with the term paradigm.


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Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education
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