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Lesson Plans

Art Ed./teacher training: Modern or Postmodern?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Wed, 21 Jan 1998 02:22:36 -0600

Within the last month or two I have read quite a few messages which
addressed teacher training in art education. What seems to be missing in
most if not all of the discussions is the inconsistency between current
culture/art (postmodern) and the practices of most art educators (modern,
if not pre-modern). Larger questions remain: What is art education in a
postmodern world and what is its function?
The world has changed, or it may be more precise to state we have
changed the world, and art education is lagging behind. Most current art
educational practices are a hybridization of modernist general education
concepts, modern art theory, cursory appearances of artistic activity, and
the so-called four disciplines of art. The excitement of new times and
postmodern thought is brightly lit on the horizon, but for most art
educators its vibrant luminosity is obscured by a dark modernist lens and
disciplined squinting. Art educators must escape from this paradigmatic
trap of embracing approaches that are nearly a century old (elements and
principles, creative self-expression, "High Art" as a transcendent route
to the human soul, "truth" and "beauty" attached to arbitrary images), and
embrace a more open, fluid, inter/intradisciplinary, and pluralistic
approach to pedagogy. Even current practices such as DBAE has at its core
a structuralist dogma which separates and defines "disciplines," and
promotes the high arts (as opposed to mass media/popular imagery) as a
conduit to creative, humane, honest and inspiring aspects of ourselves and
society. If art education crosses disciplines shouldn't we embrace the
hybridization of art education rather than admonish it? What should art
educators be educated in (Art (which one), general ed., philosophy, art
history, literature, film, cultural studies, aesthetics, curriculum
development, new media (computer tech.), English, history..) and who should
educate them?
Part of the practice of art education is deciding what art
education is. Art education needs to reconstruct itself as it faces new
questions (postmodern issues including: intertextuality, new technology,
dematerialization, globalization, the dissolving of originality and
authenticity, hybridization of disciplines ,visual culture, critical
pedagogy...). Art education, and the training of art educators is always
in flux and should never be totally comfortable.

Kevin Michael Tavin Ph.D. Candidate
Dept. of Art Education
The Pennsylvania State University
School of Visual Arts