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The philosophy I embrace is called critical theory. Critical theory comes
from a branch of philosophy called ethics and is easily applied to art
education. One example is the notion that under-represention of
Non-europeans and women in the art historical canon is unacceptable. The
critical argument states that such misrepresentation robs our students of
an accurate view of the world's artistic production, and that this is
immoral. Critical theorists may point out that art by European masters
constitutes about 3% of the world's artistic output; yet accounts for about
97% of the art taught in our schools. Oops.
I, as an art ed professor, want my students to realize this and make their
later teaching decisions based on it. Thus, philosophy drives practice and
better teaching is the result.
I am always surprised at how few of my beginning students understand the
severity of gender and ethnic imbalance in traditional art histories. They
live the experience, but they don't realize it. They see the imbalance as
peripheral to their lives until philosophy makes plain that it is at the
very heart of their experience as women OR men, and certainly as art
teachers. So I don't create philosophy for my students to memorize; I
simply point it out for them to teach with. Professors who talk philosophy
AT students bear their share of responsibility for the hostility of some
classroom teachers toward a discipline that could add meaning, richness,
and depth to their and their students' lives.
Dennis E. Fehr, Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Art Education
Department of Art, Box 42081
Texas Tech University
Lubbock TX 79409.2081
(effective August 25, 1997)