The Art Museum and the University in Preservice Education

By Henry, Carole | Art Education, January 2004 | Go to article overview

The Art Museum and the University in Preservice Education


Henry, Carole, Art Education


Recent art education practice has centered on the belief that it is important to provide students with the opportunity to view and respond to works of art as well as to be involved in the production of artworks. This belief is evidenced in the National Visual Arts Standards (NAEA, 1994), a document that details what "every young American should know and be able to do in the Arts" (p. 18). According to these standards, students should be able to "communicate proficiently" in the visual arts, "develop and present basic analyses of works of visual art, have informed acquaintance with exemplary works of art from a variety of cultures and historical periods, and be able to relate art knowledge within and across the arts disciplines" (p. 14), all of which are aspects of current museum education programming.1

Educational leaders are now recognizing that teachers are key to educational reform. One of the most positive events in this regard is the development of national standards for certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). These voluntary standards allow "accomplished" teachers to demonstrate the professional strengths they have developed with experience, advanced study, and thoughtful practice. The NBPTS publication, Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Art: Standards for National Board Certification establishes "high standards for what teachers should know and be able to do, to certify teachers who meet those standards, and to improve learning in American schools" (NBPTS, 1994/2001, p.1). Although the standards are intended to identify and certify "highly accomplished teachers," they also provide guidance regarding the preparation of all art teachers and served as the foundation for the revision of the NAEA publication Standards for Art Teacher Preparation (1999).

Examination of the NAEA Standards for Art Teacher Preparation reveals that many of the standards are based in skills and competencies that are often realized in museum education programming. While these standards give support to teaching students how to access and interpret works of art, they also specifically articulate the need to teach preservice teachers how to use museums and their educational materials. For example, the Standards state that art education faculty should "utilize museum and community art resources in their programs" (p. 8) and ensure that their students have "access to diverse and alternative educational settings such as museums" (p. 8). In addition, art education students should be "familiar with art curriculum resources produced by museum education departments and other publishers and ... make selections appropriate for their curricular goals" (p. 12). This specific reference to museums is important because research has indicated that art teachers would use museum services more if they were prepared to do so in their preservice programs.

Stone (1992a, 1992b, 1993) surveyed art museum professionals, elementary arts specialists, and secondary arts specialists nationally to obtain information about art museum/school relationships. The art museums she surveyed extended "a strong and active commitment to the schools" that was demonstrated in "high interest in developing relationships when they are absent; programmatic offerings and services to the schools; and less visible services, such as curricular connections between art museum programs and school art education instruction" (1992b, p. 59). Other results showed that although school districts responded to museum services, it was often the museum that initiated these efforts with the schools functioning as consumers. Stone believes this unequal partnership "precludes the full integration of the art museum into the school curriculum" (1992b, p. 60). The data she obtained indicates that enrollment in teacher workshops generally reflects a small percentage of teachers in a given area and that most participants in such workshops are classroom teachers, not art specialists. …

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