Poster Contests: In the Students' Best Interest?

By Walsh, Dan | School Arts, March 1993 | Go to article overview

Poster Contests: In the Students' Best Interest?


Walsh, Dan, School Arts


In the Students' Best Interest?

Each year, numerous corporations, government agencies, private non-profit groups and international organizations sponsor unsupervised poster contests in which tens of thousands of American youths, from kindergarten through college, participate. Art educators witness firsthand the down side of these poster contests, and not surprisingly, many have come to distrust and resent the insensitive, exploitative sponsor-driven approach.

What is a Poster Contest?

Poster contests can be local, regional or national and usually focus on specific issues, such as wildlife preservation, literacy, disarmament, ecology or drunk driving. Although all these groups are well intentioned, their contests, with rare exceptions, squander a unique opportunity to expand the social and creative skills of all participants.

The "best" posters are usually picked by a panel of anonymous "experts" and prizes are then awarded to the "winners." All other participants are left frustrated and in the dark about who won and why.

Where They Go Wrong

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a contest is: "1. A struggle for superiority or victory between rivals. 2. A competition, especially one in which entrants perform separately and are rated by judges."

Struggle, superiority, victory, rivals and competition are not terms we should be using to teach visual communications skills. Yet sponsors continue to underwrite poster contests using outdated methods that are considered counterproductive, and even harmful, by many art educators and parents. Many poster contests originate because sponsors assume they are efficient, cost effective vehicles for focusing student attentions on a particular social or political issue, and because poster contests often have a high public-relations payoff.

Most sponsor-driven poster contests are designed and administered as though the creation of an effective poster is a competitive game. This approach misses the educational point entirely, which is: the creative process is vastly more important than the sponsor's need for a product.

Dr. Kent Anderson touched on this issue in his editorial in the December 1991 issue of Schoolarts magazine. He describes one young artist's bewilderment, hurt pride, and refusal to participate in any future art project - all as a result of a poster contest sponsors' misleading brochure and flippant attitude toward the feelings and needs of young artists. Unfortunately, the scenario described by Dr. Anderson happens all too frequently.

The potential to damage young artists' self-esteem is another reason many art educators are uneasy with sponsor-driven contests. Because poster contests are completely unregulated and often appear with little advance notice, it is difficult to evaluate or change them systematically. Indeed, even professional education associations seem stymied. The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Advisory List of Contests and Activities 1991-92 states that "the Committee is ... deeply concerned about general art poster contests sponsored by organizations other than art groups. Since there has been increasing concern on the part of art teachers that art contests were being used to promote an idea or viewpoint rather than art, the Committee is no longer adding art contests except those sponsored by art groups to the list." The NASSP list provides a great deal of information about contests in general, however, its only reference to the problem of sponser-driven poster contests is to state that "Unsupervised essay and poster contests will not be listed." A less passive position would benefit concerned administrators, art educators, parents and students, and would also benefit the sponsors of future poster contests.

The position of the National Art Education Association is equally passive: "The NAEA does not endorse any contest of competition in art . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Poster Contests: In the Students' Best Interest?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.