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The Value of Art Education

Art education assures the fullest possible integration of art with life. Whether students are being taught to make art, to learn about the art of the past, or to experience art critically and sensually, the goal is to achieve a 'literacy' in art equivalent to the literacy, numeracy, and other skills that every educated person must possess. This is, of course, an ideal goal since American society tends to view any activity so frivolous and nonproductive as art with a jaundiced eye. The struggle that faces those who believe in this goal, therefore, is to explain, or demonstrate, convincingly how art is an essential human activity completely on a par with all the traditional 'academic' skills of which this manifestly practical society approves. Two of the major documents in support of this idea are John Dewey's Art as Experience (1934) and Herbert Read's Education through Art (1958, first edition published in 1943). Both Dewey's and Read's works argue the essential nature of the art experience for the fully integrated human being. Dewey makes his arguments, however, on aesthetic-philosophical grounds based on his understanding of the relationship between art and human experience. Read, on the other hand, holds that art must be the basis of all education and demonstrates this through his philosophical-psychological examination of the precise nature of education.

These influential works were instrumental in the development of the pedagogy of art and many of the views held by Read and Dewey have been incorporated into approaches to teaching art. For example, Dewey's notion of a continuum of experience in which art is an ultimate expression of ordinary experience underlies the fundamental idea in visual-arts education that the process of making art "is a complex one in which children bring together diverse elements of their experience to make a new and meaningful whole" (Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1987, p. 2). This process of interact...

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The Value of Art Education. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:14, May 24, 2020, from