Moving toward a New Philosophy of Art Education

By Michlein, Lee | School Arts, September 1999 | Go to article overview

Moving toward a New Philosophy of Art Education


Michlein, Lee, School Arts


We face challenges, both old and new, in the artroom and within the system of education. The value of art education is perennially in question. New challenges come in the form of change. The politics and goals of education are changing. Some change comes as a result of our understanding the brain and how it responds and learns. Still more change comes from society and the workplace. But is change always bad? Changes have occurred, yet we continue to meet art education's challenges with the same old philosophy.

Art is the Work of the Mind

Art teachers should be able to train the mind tO develop creative ideas. Instead, we have concentrated on the work of our students' hands. Even in the trend toward process rather than product, we continue to emphasize the physical process of creating rather than the mental process of creative thinking. Too often our lessons begin with a focus on media. The artwork may have become more technically complicated, but often the creative idea motivating the work is dictated by the lesson.

In studying art history, we concentrate on the works that were created, while we often neglect to speak about the artist's creative intention and how he or she developed the idea behind the artwork.

While few people need to develop advanced technical art skills and become well-versed in media for a happy, successful life, everyone needs to develop an advanced capability to create innovative solutions to everyday problems. We need the ability to seek new options to old problems. It is what success is about today.

Challenges in the Classroom

All of us use a specific thinking process to develop new ideas and to solve our problems. The process varies for each individual, but generally is employed by the subconscious mind. Some of us are more effective than others. Most of us, however, could not explain the process we use when we come up with a new idea or a solution. Consequently we never develop the skills that allow us to consciously and deliberately develop solutions or ideas on demand. One of the difficulties that confronted me as a beginning art teacher was my students' inability to develop ideas for their work.

What Should I Paint?

I began to wonder if the stereotype of art as the "dumping ground" was tree! Did I have a class full of students who couldn't think? Of course not! All my students took English, Math, Science, and Social Studies too. Convergent/divergent, right brain/left brain ... these theories, no longer current, were not enough to explain the `problem and they didn't offer me a solution. On a typical day, I'd demonstrate the ways in which the media of the moment could be used to create effects. But my students had no need for the information I shared. They sat armed with the tools and some knowledge of how to use the materials, but they couldn't think of what to paint, draw, or sculpt.

They wanted to be successful, but they needed an idea to begin and they didn't know where or how to get one! All their potential technical skill was stalled while waiting for an idea. The frustration grew for all of us. Obviously, change was in order!

The Need for Personal Expression

I spent a major portion of that first year coming up with ideas for my students. I devised lessons with the ideas built in. I was getting better at coming up with ideas all the time, but my students still couldn't come up with their own. It was exhausting and unfulfilling and my students were losing out on the most important aspects of art communication and personal expression.

I began having conversations with them about what they were interested in, felt passionately about and what they liked to look at in life and in artwork. It didn't take long to discover the root of the problem--most of them didn't know! Others knew but weren't confident enough to acknowledge their thoughts. They could, and would, "borrow" someone else's art ideas verbatim and attempt to replicate them, but they couldn't discover what they liked about another's work and apply it to their own ideas. …

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

Moving toward a New Philosophy of Art Education
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.