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[teacherartexchange] Ten Lessons the Arts Teach


From: Diane Gregory (gregory.diane55_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Aug 13 2008 - 10:25:23 PDT

Hi Guys,

This fall in my elementary art methods class for Art Education majors we are embarking on a project to tell real stories about the significance of visual art in our lives. We will use the "Ten Lessons that the Arts Teach" by Elliot Eisner that is published on the NAEA web site as a starting point. See below.

I will ask each student to write a brief personal story for any and all the statements or lessons that the Arts teach according to Eisner. These can be personal accounts that verify the statement and keep a personal explanation about the truth and power of the statement. They can be studio oriented, art history oriented, etc. We will collect the stories, edit them, and circulate them back to this list for further comment. Perhaps, if it works out, we can submit it to publication for School Arts or some other venue. I anticipate that this project will go on for several weeks. I hope these students can then create a PowerPoint presentation or some other work that can be used by them and others to describe the value of an education in art more authentically and powerfully. Students can then use this material to advocate for their own art programs and I believe the stories will stick with them and strengthen and transform their own understanding of
the value of an education in art. Many times beginning art teachers are lost for words to articulate the value of an education in art and I hope this project will help them give voice to what lies in their minds, hearts, and souls.

Please join us in our storytelling. I have found that advocacy statements like Eisner's truly come to life when artists and art teachers tell their stories and provide examples of these fine statements. Eisner is so good at articulating the value of our message. Now we can do what we do best...adding the details and our stories about how these are reality and not just pie in the sky.

I have published the ten statements below. If you care to contribute, please do so on this list rather than sending private email. The idea is to have a collective discussion about this. Perhaps we could even extend this later to other discussion lists and provide testimonies about the value of the arts. Whatever you contribute will be given to my students and perhaps we can engage in a collaborative project together.



Ten Lessons the Arts Teach*
By Elliot Eisner

The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.
One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving.
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity. Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor number exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.

The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.
When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source.
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.

*SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications. NAEA grants reprint permission for this excerpt from Ten Lessons with proper acknowledgment of its source and NAEA.

Dr. Diane C. Gregory
Associate Professor of Art Education
Director, Undergraduate and Graduate
Studies in Art Education

Dr. Diane C. Gregory
Associate Professor of Art Education
Director, Undergraduate and Graduate
Studies in Art Education

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