Letter to the Editor

Art Education, November 2002 | Go to article overview

Letter to the Editor


I Feel Sorry For...

I feel sorry for art teachers, and especially for their students, if the aims and objectives/concerns that I see in the current writings in the publications in our field are carried out in the classroom. The areas appear to be multiculturalism, art history, and intellectual aspects of art. When art education is based upon any one of these the student is not able to create his or her own artwork, assuming the making of art involves the student's own creative expression of his/her ideas, feelings, and perceptions, all coming together in the work of art.

One of these approaches, multiculturalism, appears to be wherein various aspects of foreign cultures around the world are emphasized, and artwork of those cultures is studied and apparently emulated as art experiences by students. The multiculturalists usually write about the cultures of India, Mexico, New Zealand, American Indians, and the like. If only one culture is emphasized, the objective of developing a knowledge of the various cultures of the world is never achieved. In the limited time allotted to art in schools, even considering one culture concerning its history, geography, and artworks, etc., would be nearly impossible. I feel sorry for the students who never get to do their own creative expression in such a setting.

Another emphasis I read about is knowledge of art history. As a university student, I attended art history class for one hour, five times a week, for an entire year, listening to the professor lecturing about art from all periods of history and showing slides of it-in addition to hours of homework and reading about it in our textbook. We did no art work in this class. How can present-day art educators put so much emphasis on a knowledge of art history when so many public school classes usually meet two or three times a week from 30 to 50 minutes? Who are we fooling, thinking we can teach art history with the limited time allowed for teaching art? I feel sorry for the students who never get to do their own creative art work and express their own thoughts, perceptions, and feelings in such a setting!

A third emphasis appears to be centered on intellectual aspects of art/art criticism (looking at and talking about visual art). I assume intellectual aspects must mean knowledge of art materials (tools, paints, etc.) and processes, as well as studying design elements and principles. Herein the student and his or her own personal expression/development is not considered. Whereas the student may make art, it is made according to the teacher's specific directions and formula. The personal emotion/ feeling aspect on the part of the student concerning the art work is not considered or wanted by the teacher. I feel sorry for the students who never get to express their own ideas and feelings in their art work.

With all the emphasis on multiculturalism. art history, and intellectual aspects about art and art criticism, there is no consideration for the many aspects of an individual to which art can contribute. …

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