Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education

By Elliot W. Eisner; Michael D. Day | Go to book overview

4
Policy and Arts Education
Ralph A. Smith
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

INTRODUCTION

As this Handbook indicates, policy questions and issues surface when decisions are made about the purposes and objectives of arts education, curriculum design, teaching and learning strategies, the selection of content, teacher preparation, administration, and types of advocacy and research. A judicious and coherent policy is one that is ethically acceptable, descriptive of the state of affairs it is intended to realize, implementable, and amenable to assessment. There are also questions about the sources of policy and the forces driving it.

What then is the state of affairs that policy for visual art education intends to bring about? Who should decide such policy, and how is policy enacted and implemented? How is it to be assessed and who should be the assessors? What are the conditions and forces influencing changes in policy? Policymaking is often a function of collaboration among federal agencies, states, and communities, professional arts organization, institutions of higher education, cultural organizations, and a variety of special-interest groups. States, school districts, and local school boards, moreover, usually provide some leeway in the selection of content, methods of implementation, and instruments of evaluation, as evidenced, for example, in the implementation of the national standards for arts education. The tendency of professional arts associations has been to emphasize the distinctive educational values of arts education and how they might be realized in the young. Federal and private organizations, often in tandem, tend to concentrate on national priorities. Special-interest groups further complicate matters. Because a serious tension exists between professional arts education associations and a complex of federal and cultural organizations with potent lobbying powers, a major issue for the field of art education has become the preservation of the core values of art education. Such tension raises issues about the sources of policy, the credibility of policymakers, and the dynamics and politics of collaboration.

All policymaking ultimately derives from more or less explicit assumptions about the inherent values of art and how they figure in justifications of art education. What, for example, are the more immediate values of artistic and appreciative activities in art education and their effects

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