Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education

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

36
Curriculum Change for the 21st
Century: Visual Culture
in Art Education
Kerry Freedman
Northern Illinois University
Patricia Stuhr
The Ohio State University

CURRICULUM AND VISUAL CULTURE

National and international art educators have begun to move away from the emphasis on traditional fine arts disciplines toward a broader range of visual arts and cultural issues (BallengeeMorris & Stuhr, 2001; Barbosa, 1991; Blandy, 1994; Congdon, 1991; Duncum, 1990; Freedman, 1994, 2000; Garber, 1995; Garoian, 1999; Hernández, 2000; Hicks, 1990; Jagodzinski, 1997; Neperud, 1995; Smith-Shank, 1996; Tavin, 2000). These contributors to the field have argued for a transformation of art education in response to changing conditions in the contemporary world where the visual arts, including popular arts and contemporary fine art, are an increasingly important part of the larger visual culture that surrounds and shapes our daily lives. In the process of this transformation, art educators are replacing older views of curriculum and instruction with an expanded vision of the place of visual arts in human experience.

The change in art education has historical roots. From the beginning of public school art education in the late 19th century, a range of design forms have been included in the field. For example, early art education focused on industrial drawing and handicrafts; children's interests became a topic of art education by the 1920s; art in daily life was a slogan of the 1930s; during World War II, visual propaganda was taught in school; and during the 1960s, crafts increased in popularity. In the following 2 decades, a few art educators addressed important issues in the uses of popular culture and mass-media technologies, contextualizing these in relation to students' lives (Chalmers, 1981; Grigsby, 1977; Lanier, 1969; 1974; McFee & Degge, 1977; Neperud, 1973; Wilson & Wilson, 1977; Wilson, Hurwitz, & Wilson, 1987).

Substantial differences exist between those roots of a generation or more ago and the contemporary movement. This is the case, in part, because the global virtual culture only suggested by theorists before the availability of interactive, personal computers in the early 1980s has now become a reality with its associated proliferation of images and designed objects. The current transformation of art education is more than just a broadening of curriculum content and changes in teaching strategies in response to the immediacy and mass distribution

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