Academic journal article Studies in Art Education
Response to "A Survey of Graduate Study in Art Education"
Words like health, healthy, vigor, strong and wide-ranging color the conclusions of Anderson, Eisner, and McRorie's survey. While those terms are reassuring to the art educators who will read this study, I want to take a somewhat critical approach. In the muckraking spirit of the late Vincent Lanier (1977) and his friend Ken Marantz, I write to encourage reassessment not to reassure.
Anderson, Eisner, and McRorie report that most of the master's degree programs surveyed adhere to the goal of producing master teachers. In spite of dominance by artist-teacher and DBAE paradigms, studio art seems to center the curriculum in most master's programs. How will these programs respond to the content identified by the National Standards and by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Art? Might art educators graduating with a master's degree, but without opportunities for critical inquiry into past and present works of art, find it difficult to help their students learn content they missed themselves?
The wide-ranging, broadly conceived specializations of doctoral programs in art education may be healthy for the faculty and graduate students who are encouraged to pursue their interests. Graduates of those doctoral programs, however, become faculty in preservice and master's programs. Are doctoral programs becoming more narrowly specialized, insulated from the problems of K-12 art teachers? Should we make an effort to develop broader conversations among isolated faculty?
In three decades since Eisner's original "Graduate Study and the Preparation of Scholars in Art Education" was published, art education has grown as a profession. Writing about the history of educational research in general, Lagemann (1997) cites Andrew Abbott's view of professionalization as "a continuous, historical process by which different groups have vied for jurisdiction over different social functions" (p. 5). For over a century art educators have claimed jurisdiction over teaching the visual arts in schools. Lagemann continues:
To gain jurisdiction, which allows a particular group to define the problems involved in, say, educating children, that group must possess abstract knowledge that is both not available to others and relevant to the tasks demanded by that particular occupation. …