Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education

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

5
Art Education in a World
of Cross-Purposes
Samuel Hope
National Association of Schools of Art and Design

This chapter considers a number of policy challenges for the field of art education. It suggests basic orientation to policy considerations and proposes several sets of research questions that need perpetual attention. Distinctions are drawn between the survival and the health of the field. Purposes, techniques, youth cultures, technology, teacher preparation, philosophy, curricula, support resources, and standards are considered as major areas of policy analysis. The conclusion recommends the development of a more extensive research-based policy capability for the field of art education.


ART EDUCATION AND QUESTIONS OF POLICY

To study art education is to discover and engage a field rich with achievement and promise. On one hand, this comes as no surprise because art education encompasses and embraces great artistic and intellectual traditions of work in and about visual form, each of which with its own habits of mind, approaches to achievement, and history. On the other hand, the accomplishments of art educators in the United States represent something special. Many contextual factors work against serious instruction in things visual. Gains in art education have been purchased through the extraordinary dedication of individual teachers working alone and in groups. In one sense, art education in the United States is defined by the unremitting struggle to sustain a reasonable purpose: developing basic visual knowledge and skills in individual students.

Like all other fields, art education works in a context created by forces over which it has little control. It also has areas of responsibility where it can exercise significant control. A third reality is not discussed as much as it should be. This reality can be demarcated by asking several illustrative questions: What choices does the field make about dealing with conditions that appear to be beyond its control? How well does the field delineate and then protect those things that are essential to its survival? How does the field manage the relationship between decisions in areas it cannot control and decisions in areas it can control? How much and what kind of thinking is being done about the short- and long-term ramifications of real or

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