UNFOLDING OR TEACHING: ON THE OPTIMAL TRAINING OF ARTISTIC SKILLS
TWO WIDELY diverging views can be found on the optimal means for developing artistic talent, for fostering creative artists, performers, and perceivers in the visual as well as other aesthetic domains. One view might be termed the "unfolding" or "natural" perspective. The child is viewed as a seed, which, though small and fragile, contains within its husk all the necessary "germs" for eventual artistic virtuosity. The role of the naturalist or gardener who tends the seed is primarily preventive: to shield the young shoots from malevolent influences-- violent winds, fiendish crows--so that the seeds have the opportunity to unfold on their own into uniquely beautiful flowers. By analogy, in the field of art education every normal child is seen as (at least potentially) a productive and imaginative practitioner of the arts. The art teacher must play the role of a Rousseauan tutor-- shielding the innocent and fragile young child from pernicious forces in the society so that his inborn talents can flower. Other than providing a comfortable setting and minimally equipping the child with paints, clay, or blocks, the teacher does little that is active; his task is preventive rather than prescriptive.